Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (January 5, 2024)

Down To Earth brings you the top environmental cases heard in the Supreme Court, the high courts and the National Green Tribunal

By DTE Staff
Published: Monday 08 January 2024

Forest land encroachment by steel industry in Durgapur, West Bengal

The eastern zone bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on January 5, 2024 heard the case of alleged encroachment of forest land by steel manufacturer Shyam Sel & Power Ltd in Durgapur subdivision, West Bengal. 

The court directed notices be issued to the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), West Bengal government and Shyam Sel and Power Ltd. All the respondents have been asked to file their counter affidavits within four weeks. The next hearing in the case will be on February 6.

The original application was filed by an applicant seeking direction to protect and preserve the forest land in Mouza Madumpur and to take steps to prevent encroachment of the said forest land by Shyam Sel & Power Ltd. 

Shyam Sel & Power Ltd, which works with ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgical industries, had filed an application seeking environmental clearance on September 29, 2021 for the expansion and modification of the integrated steel plant in the Jamuria region of West Bengal.

The plan included the expansion of an oxygen plant, producer gas plant, sinter plant, coke oven plant, blast furnace, direct reduced iron plant, pellet plant, rolling mill and captive power plant. Further, the environmental impact assessment submitted by the company seeking environmental clearance stated that no forest land was involved in the said expansion proposal.

A spot inquiry on April 13, 2023 by the forest range officer for Asansol found that the industry had encroached on 8.59 acres of forest land, NGT was told. The forest range officer informed the officer-in-charge of Jamuria Police Station and a notice was served by the range officer to demolish the illegal structure.

Coastal zone management

The coastal zone management plan (CZMP) as per Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, 2019 has been approved for Odisha, Karnataka and Maharashtra, MoEFCC told the NGT. The island coastal regulation zone management plan (ICRZP) as per Island Coastal Regulation Zone Notification, 2019 has also been approved for Great Nicobar Island and Little Andaman Island, it stated.

The CZMP / ICRZP for the rest of the states are at present applicable as per the CRZ Notification, 2011 and Island Protection Zone Notification, 2011. The National Coastal Zone Management Authority (NCZMA) in its 46th meeting on August 1, 2023 directed that all coastal states and Union territories (UT) whose CZMP/ICRZP are yet to be finalised as per CRZ Notification, 2019 must complete the same within two months (October 31, 2023), the ministry said.

All remaining  coastal states and UTs were requested on September 22, 2023 and November 30, 2023 to expedite the finalisation of the CZMP / ICRZP as per CRZ Notification, 2019 as directed by NCZMA.

As per the CRZ Notification, 2011 / 2019, the state coastal zone management authorities are primarily responsible for the enforcement and implementation of the provisions of the CRZ Notification and compliance with the conditions stipulated thereunder, the MoEFCC stated.

Conversion of pukur (waterbody) to non-pukur land in South 24 Parganas, West Bengal

The NGT took up the matter of the conversion of pukur (waterbody) to non-pukur land without initiating the proceedings under the provisions of Section 4C(5) of the West Bengal Land Reforms Act, 1955. The area is located in Canning-I, South 24 Parganas district.

The court, on January 5, 2024, directed the district magistrate, South 24 Parganas, to examine each of the replies submitted by the land holders to whom the show cause notices were issued and take appropriate action as per law and file an affidavit of compliance within four weeks.

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