Court Digest: Major environment hearings of the week (July 29-Aug 2)

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 03 August 2019

Study on brick kilns unsatisfactory

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on July 30, 2019 found the report filed by CPCB on brick kilns’ operation in non-NCR area without any study on the impact in the air quality and without safeguards unsatisfactory. The case is against the director of Food, Civil supplies and Consumers Affairs for allowing the operation.

The tribunal, in its order on April 30, had asked the CPCB and Haryana government “to undertake a study on air quality carrying capacity assessment and impact of operation of the conventional brick kilns using agri-residue”. The CPCB has sought more time to file a proper report.

Mining without EC in Ambaji

The NGT asked a committee that inspected three mining sites in Ambaji, Banas Kantha district in Gujarat to file another report mentioning if a mining closure plan was submitted and ascertain the environmental compensation for the damages caused to the area owing to illegal mining.

The committee comprises State Environment Impact Assessment Authority, Gujarat and the Gujarat Pollution Control Board. They had previously reported that no mining activity was found in these sites due to self-closure by the mining companies as they lacked environmental clearance. The NGT said overburden of many mining leases operating in the area was being dumped in natural drain obstructing flow of water and causing siltation of water courses.

“The value of the illegally mined minerals, net present value of the ecological service foregone and the cost of restitution shall also be worked out at a deterrent value," the order of July 25, 2019 read.

Delay in hydro project

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on July 31, 2019 dismissed the applications filed against the committee which was constituted by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in November 2017 for the Subansiri Lower Hydro Electric Project.

"The project is to advance public interest. We have not found any material on record justifying the plea of bias. The Economic Advisory Council has conducted the appraisal. The competent authority has agreed with the same. Mere association of organisations with the project in professional capacity is not enough to hold that any expert who worked in such association will have an institutional bias", read the order.

Pollution in Kondli irrigation canal

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on July 30, 2019  ordered that the East Delhi Municipal Corp (EDMC), Delhi Jal Board (DJB), the Noida authority and the Ghaziabad Nagar Nigam pay a performance guarantee of Rs 1 crore each to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for polluting irrigation canal at Kondli village in Uttar Pradesh’s Noida. Also, the undertaking will be to take remedial actions, failing which the amount would be forfeited, the NGT ordered.

Untreated sewage was discharged in the irrigation canal in violation of the provisions of Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.

A report furnished by the Noida authority and the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) stated that the Kondli drain was not connected to any river or canal before meeting Yamuna.

UPPCB’s counsel said since pollution is originating from Delhi, the DJB and EDMC are liable to pay environmental compensation in the same way as Noida Authority and Ghaziabad Nagar Nigam.

Clean-up of Tarapith

The NGT on July 29, 2019 expressed its concern at the delay in construction of a sewage treatment plant (STP) for Tarapith town in West Bengal's Birbhum district to make the Dwarka river pollution-free.

The NGT directed the state government and the district magistrate of Birbhum to ensure that the work was completed in six months. Further, the Public Health Engineering Department and the district magistrate were asked to submit a report of compliance after six months.

The magistrate had informed the tribunal that a garbage clearance agency had been appointed for collection of waste material from the periphery of the Maa Tara Temple and both sides of the Dwarka where hotels, guest houses and shops are situated.

Sone river mining

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on July 29, 2019 directed Bihar's State Environment Impact Assessment Authority, Department of Geology and Mining, State Pollution Control Board and the district magistrate of Bhojpur to jointly inspect the bed of Sone river in Bhojpur and verify whether illegal sand mining was taking place or not.

It had been alleged that sand had been excavated at many places on the river bed by digging up to a depth of 50 feet, against the permissible depth of three metres, resulting in reduction of groundwater levels in the nearby area.

If the allegations were proved to be correct, appropriate action would have to be taken against the illegal miners, the NGT said. 

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