Down To Earth brings you the top environmental cases heard in the Supreme Court, the high courts and the National Green Tribunal
The National Green Tribunal directed the state of Uttarakhand to pay environmental compensation of Rs 200 crore over sewage mismanagement. The amount will be used exclusively for sewage and solid waste management.
The tribunal considered the gap in sewage generation and treatment of about 60 million litres per day, a gap in solid waste of about 252.65 tonnes per day of unprocessed waste and 1.57 million tonnes of legacy waste to calculate the fine.
The court May 11, 2023 accepted the request of the chief secretary of the administration to ensure the availability of the compensation money instead of the NGT. The money will be transferred to a separate ring-fenced account within one month and will be used as per the chief secretary's directions.
The tribunal also took note of the unique problems of states like Uttarakhand and perhaps other hill states (like the North East ones, Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh) for the management of sewage and solid waste.
The Union Ministry of Urban Development, the National Mission for Clean Ganga, the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation and the Central Pollution Control Board need to provide safe sewage and solid waste management methods to suit the climatic and topographical conditions, added the NGT order.
Unauthorised muck dumping sites that came up while constructing a 12 kilometre road from Itharna to Kukhai in districts Tehri Garhwal and Dehradun, Uttarakhand should be immediately closed down, directed the NGT, May 10, 2023.
Trees should be planted at these sites and it should be ensured that no such unauthorised dumping sites come up in future, the order said. Compliance with conditions for the diversion of forest land and other environmental norms also needs to be ensured.
The NGT was hearing about the matter of unscientific waste dumping during the construction of a road. Waste was dumped in Jakhan river, which is a tributary to river Ganga, thereby forming a temporary lake near Shambhuwala village.
The report of a joint committee comprising of Uttarakhand Pollution Control Board (UKPCB), divisional forest officer (DFO), Dehradun and district magistrate, Dehradun dated March 18, 2023, acknowledged the violations and also the formation of a lake due to dumping of waste.
The report said 27 trees were damaged by muck dumping, for which compensation of Rs 50,000 has been recovered. It added that four unauthorised dumping zones were set up, which also resulted in further damage to the trees in the area.
Environmental violations have been noted from the report and remedial action needs to be taken, the NGT said.
The NGT directed thermal power plants, coal mining units, stone crushers and railway siding management in Singrauli in Madhya Pradesh and Sonbhadra in Uttar Pradesh to take necessary preventive and remedial measures to control air pollution.
These measures included controlling dust emissions while transporting coal and fly ash during industrial operations. Fly ash handling and utilisation must follow laid down procedures, the May 10, 2023 order said.
In case of violations, statutory regulators must close such units until compliance. Further, accountability has to be fixed for past violations. The measures taken by Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board so far are inadequate, the tribunal said.
There is no report about remedial action by the Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board, noted the NGT.
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