Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (November 15, 2023)

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: Friday 17 November 2023

NGT directs winding up Oversight Committee of Uttar Pradesh

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) November 10, 2023 directed that the three-tier monitoring mechanism and accountability committee set up by the state of Uttar Pradesh should be entrusted with the monitoring of directions issued by the courts and NGT. Thus, in these circumstances, it would not be proper to continue the Oversight Committee appointed by the tribunal. 

The court also directed that the district-level committees should submit their monthly report by the last date of each month to the state-level committee concerned and the state-level committee will submit a quarterly monitoring / compliance report to the chief secretary. 

The chief secretary of Uttar Pradesh will analyse and compile the reports within one month of their receipt in his office and will take requisite action to ensure full compliance. The chief secretary would also file the action taken report every six months before the registrar general of NGT.

The time limit of September 1, 2023 fixed for smooth transition of work of the Oversight Committee to the three-tier mechanism set up by Uttar Pradesh in the meeting of the chief secretary with the chairman and members of the Oversight Committee on June 29, 2023 is already over. 

The NGT directed that henceforth, “the three-tier mechanism, the committees set up therein as also the Accountability Committee set up will be responsible for compliance of various directions of the NGT and the courts and implementation of projects, unless otherwise directed in any particular matter”.

If any report is pending before the Oversight Committee, the same may be submitted to the courts / tribunal concerned by the committee on or before November 30, 2023. Accordingly, the Oversight Committee is wound up and the Oversight Committee will transfer all the immovable and movables received by it from the state of UP / UPPCB for its functioning to the state / UPPCB by November 30, 2023. 

The Oversight Committee was constituted by the tribunal on the request of the state of Uttar Pradesh. Now, the state has set up its own three tier monitoring mechanism by constituting the committees at different levels and has also constituted the Accountability Committees, therefore, the proper monitoring mechanism at the instance of the state of UP has come into existence.

The state of Uttar Pradesh filed the application requesting for review of the order dated July 20, 2023 “seeking limited review to wind up the Oversight Committee and permit monitoring of the environmental compliance and issues through the State Monitoring Mechanism.”

Uttar Pradesh has placed on record the communication dated November 28, 2022 sent by the Additional Chief Secretary, Environment, Forest & Climate Change to the NGT which disclosed that the “Oversight Committee appointed by the NGT and the staff recruited by it is putting an extra financial burden on the board”. 

No improvement in air quality index of various Indian cities: NGT

The NGT November 10 directed the state authorities and the chief secretaries concerned  to review their approach and come up with adequate measures so that the air quality in the cities concerned improves

The court directed all the “Chief Secretaries of the states where cities’ AQI has dipped or continued to be severe, very poor and poor, to take all possible immediate remedial measures and ensure that the air quality improves in those cities”.

The next hearing of the case will be on November 22, 2023.

The court noted that there has been no significant improvement in the air quality in the different cities and in fact in some of the cities, the air quality is either at the same stage or has dipped further. After going through the state wise air quality position of different cities under consideration with reference to air quality index from November 3, 2023 till November 9, 2023 said that the authorities concerned have failed in making the desired efforts which could bring about improvements in the air quality.

The NGT said that in these reports mostly long-term action plans for controlling the air pollution have been mentioned, but the NGT had also directed “immediate remedial action” which has not been complied with.

Housing society violating environmental norms

Allegations of violation of environmental norms by a housing society in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh prompted the NGT to direct a joint committee to verify the factual position and suggest appropriate remedial action. Rainwater harvesting systems and plantation of trees for improving the environment were the two aspects the complainant sought implementation by the housing society.

The joint committee will comprise representatives of the Central Pollution Control Board, Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board and the district magistrate, Mathura. 

The committee after undertaking visits to the site and meeting the applicant and the project proponent will submit its report. The matter has been listed for consideration on February 2, 2024.

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