Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (November 12, 2020)

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: Thursday 12 November 2020

Mining during monsoon

Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) should look into mining during monsoon in Jamunapur village of the state’s Kaushambi district, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) said.

The conditions for issuance of environmental clearance (EC) had been violated by Shesh Narayan Karwariya, who was given a lease to mine at Jamunapur, according to an application filed by Mani Shankar Dubey.

The mining lease was granted January 4, 2020. The EC was issued May 23, 2019. After this, the area was submerged under water due to the rains. Mining is not permissible during the monsoon according to the conditions of the EC. Dubey claimed that mining had taken place when the area was submerged under water.

The NGT said the UPPCB would be the nodal agency for coordination and compliance. After looking into the matter, further remedial action must be taken, the court said and a report submitted within three months.

Illegal tree felling

The NGT expressed its disappointment at the lack of action taken by the government of Arunachal Pradesh to tackle the menace of illegal felling of trees. It directed the state to “consider taking interim measures in view of the urgency of the situation”.

This would include induction of retired personnel of the forest department as well as state police personnel. The NGT suggested that the state government should also consider hiring retired army personnel on a contract basis for patrolling the hotspots in forest areas.

Jorjo Tana Tara had filed an application alleging the indiscriminate felling of trees in a reserved forest area that is part of the Papum Reserved Forest and part of the Pakke Tiger Reserve in Arunachal Pradesh.

According to the applicant, indiscriminate felling of trees had been taking place in the area. Though the government was aware of this, no effective steps had been taken to curb it. Such large scale felling would cause human-animal conflict in the area, threatening the survival of tigers, the application said.

The NGT noted that there was hardly any progress made after the NGT order of August 30, 2019. In that order, the tribunal had pointed out “serious lacunae in the administration of the forest area by the state”. The principal difficulty was the shortage of manpower, which the state government had proposed to increase.

The state government should make use of the forest cover map prepared with the help of satellites imageries by the Forest Survey of India, Dehradun of the most affected districts / hotspots, the NGT order said.

It should also observe the change in forest cover that had occurred over a time period of 10 years that could be helpful in evolving an action plan to deal with the issue, the court added.

Tara had suggested identifying hotspots where the illegalities were rampant.

The court was told that the state government intended to fill up the existing vacant posts of the forest personnel as a first step. It would then create over 200 posts of frontline staff, including foresters and forest guards.

Noise pollution

The NGT directed the UPPCB November 10 to take appropriate remedial action against motor pumps installed by SRP Buildwell Pvt Ltd, Mathura. The operation of the pumps was leading to noise pollution.

The Central Pollution Control Board and the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had asked the district magistrate of Mathura to look into the matter September 30.

However, action was not taken on the ground. The NGT also took note of the letter of September 15 issued by the regional officer of the UPPCB based on an inspection carried September 14.

Greening of National Highways

The NGT directed the Maharashtra government to restore the green belt along the National Highway No 53 from Mumbai to Kolkata at Chirvha village in Nagpur district.

It also ordered that any construction made in the belt in violation of the law was to be removed within two months. The execution of this direction would be overseen by a committee comprising the collector of Nagpur, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and the Maharashtra State Pollution Control Board.

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