Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (September 22, 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 22 September 2023

Illegal road construction on reserve forest land in Nainital: Joint committee constituted

A joint committee constituted on the orders of the National Green Tribunal will look into the allegations of hotel owners constructing a road by cutting the reserve forest land on the slanting hills in Naina Devi Himalayan Bird Conservation Reserve in Budh-Pangot area of Nainital, Uttarakhand with the support of the forest department. 

It was alleged that the construction of the road was done in 2017. Thereafter, widening of the said road had continued till December 2022 by cutting the forest land on the sides of the road in violation of the provisions of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 and the guidelines issued by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change dated March 28, 2019.

The allegation made in the application reflected violation of environmental laws and also substantial questions relating to the environment, noted the court.

The committee comprising the wildlife warden, Uttarakhand, Uttarakhand Environment Protection and Pollution Control Board and the district magistrate, Nainital will visit the site, ascertain nature of the land on which the alleged road has been constructed, gather details of the trees if any felled in the process of construction of road and the extent of damage caused to the environment in the process, and suggest remedial action, if any, for restoration. 

The Committee will also disclose the names with full address of hotels owners / persons who are responsible for construction of road, the court directed. 

Rehabilitation plan for displaced families in Doda to be finalised soon: J&K assures NGT

NGT gave a period of four weeks to the Jammu & Kashmir government to file its report on short-term and long-term action plans as well as the steps for rehabilitation of the families displaced due to cracks that developed in their dwellings in the state’s Doda district.

The Special Secretary (Technical) Forest, Ecology and Environment Department appearing for Jammu & Kashmir informed the court September 20, 2023 that the action plans will be prepared within two weeks and that necessary steps for rehabilitation of the displaced families will also be completed expeditiously. 

The action taken earlier as also the timeline for completing the rehabilitation action will be reflected in the report, the authorities assured the court.

The issue relates to the damage caused to 21 structures in Doda district of Chenab valley on account of landslides, which resulted in the displacement of inhabitants.

Salt factory polluting environment: NGT to Haryana PCB

Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) was directed by NGT September 21, 2023 to see to the allegations of a salt factory run by Kohinoor Black Salt in Dokha Dina village, Charkhi Dadri district polluting the environment.

The application mentioned that the unit is involved in the process of changing the colour of the salt, while putting white salt in earthen pots and heating it. It was alleged that in that process, coal and plastic waste is used that produces poisonous smoke and was affecting the health of nearby local residents. 

It was also alleged that open disposal of residue salt and muck had an adverse effect on the fertility of agricultural land and the unit had not taken the necessary environmental clearance (EC) from the authorities.

The tribunal directed HSPCB to carry out inspection and also ascertain the position of EC by the unit. If any violation is noted, then the action in accordance with law should be taken after giving an opportunity of hearing to the industry without any delay, the order said.

The court directed the above exercise to be completed within a period of eight weeks and an action taken report filed before the NGT within 10 weeks.

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