Court digest: Major environment hearings of the week (July 15-19)

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

By DTE Staff
Last Updated: Saturday 20 July 2019
Photo: Getty Images

NGT disposes Andhra govt’s lift irrigation scheme

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on July 15, 2019, disposed the Purushothapatnam lift irrigation scheme, undertaken by the Andhra Pradesh government for lifting of water from Godavari river, for lack of environment clearance.

The scheme is an expansion of the Polavaram project according to the reports received, S Kerketta, director of river valley and thermal sectors, ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEF&CC), told NGT.

The tribunal ruled that even if it is considered as a part of the Polavaram scheme, detailed project report (DPR) subsequently prepared in the year 2016, for the scheme, clearly reflects that it is a distinct project.

If the schme is an expansion of the Polavaram project, prior clearance is necessary under the environmental impact assessment (EIA) Notification, 2016, the tribunal said.

The NGT in its order gave Kerketta one-week time for verification as requested by him. The case shall be heard and disposed of on the next date (August 7, 2019) even if such an affidavit is not filed.

Bombay HC stays coastal road project

The Bombay High Court, on July 16, 2019, ordered a stay on the construction of a coastal road on the western coast of Mumbai, for lack of environmental clearance under EIA Notification.

Four interchanges were to connect the existing road to the proposed coastal road, from Princess Street flyover to end of the Borivali-Worli sea link.

The HC in its 219 page judgement said that municipal corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) cannot proceed with the works without obtaining clearance.  

"We are dealing an environmental issue and precautionary principle guides that all precautions envisaged by the Regulations to appraise proposals for projects or activities likely to impact environment have to be strictly followed," said Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice N M Jamdar.

Policy on telemedicine

Justices Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud and Aniruddha Bose of the Supreme Court on July 15, 2019 set aside the restraining orders passed by the Orissa HC allowing the state to review and formulate an appropriate policy to govern telemedicine centres within Odisha.

Odisha had questioned the correctness of the interim orders passed by the HC in a writ petition filed by the Orissa Trust of Technical Education.

Pollution in river Thirur Ponnai

The NGT on July 17, 2019 okayed an action plan filed by Kerala Pollution Control Board (PCB) for mitigation of pollution in river Thirur Ponnai in Malappuram district. The tribunal also asked board to implement it with strict adherence to the time-line and cost projected in the report.

The river was polluted by discharge of domestic, industrial and trade wastes and the degree of pollution was the highest downstream at Thalakkadathoor, according to an interim report by Justice AV Ramkrishan Pillai, chairman of state-level monitoring committee of solid waste management, Kerala.

The tribunal has also asked the board to submit an action-taken report within three months, with “quantifiable and qualitative indicators to ascertain the progress made during the period”.

Assess damage to environment and health: NGT

Assess the value of damage to the environment and public health and the proportion of compensation to be recovered from those causing pollution in and around Ambapada and Mahul villages near Mumbai, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on July 15, 2019, directed the Central (PCB)

"Having considered the acknowledged generation of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by the units, the impact on the environment and public health in the area and its estimated monetary value should be assessed.

"Steps should be taken for restoration accordingly, after verifying the database on VOCs and reduction of targets by taking the services of expert professionals / institutions. The values so assessed may be recovered from the units in question, in appropriate proportion," the NGT noted in its order.

Non-compliance of Bio-Medical Waste Rules 

The NGT on July 15, 2019, ordered state government and Union territories to furnish the complete inventory of healthcare facilities (HCFs) and bio-medical waste generation within two months. The tribunal was hearing about the non-compliance of the provisions of Bio-Medical Waste Management Rules, 2016.

Twenty-five per cent of identified HCFs have not even taken authorisation from the concerned state pollution control boards in the absence of which, the monitoring of waste management is not taking place, the NGT said in its order.

If the states and union territories were found to be non-compliant even after two months, they would have to pay compensation at the rate of Rs one crore per month till the non-compliance continued, the NGT said.

Great Indian Bustard and Lesser Florican in danger

The two-member bench of Justices SA Bobde and BR Gavai of the Supreme Court on July 15, 2019, ordered the constitution of committee to look into the alarming decline in the number of Great Indian Bustard and Lesser Florican.

The committee would comprise of:

  • Director of Bombay natural history society;
  • Asad R Rahmani, member of the governing body of wetlands international South Asia;
  • Dhananjai Mohan, chief conservator of forests, wildlife administration, protection and intelligence, Nainital, Uttarakhand

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