Pollution

Court Digest: Major environment hearings of the week (June 22-27, 2020)

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: Sunday 28 June 2020
Photo: Getty Images

Bihar river pollution

The Bihar State Ganga River Conservation and Program Management Society (BGCMS) reported on the status of sewage treatment plants (STP) for rivers, including Ganga, Punpun, Ramrekha, Sikrahna, Parmar, Sirsia, Sone, Kosi, Burhi Gandak, Baghmati, Gandak, Mahananda and Kiul. 

Thirty sewerage infrastructure projects, sanctioned for Rs 5,328.61 crore, are at various stages of implementation in Patna (11 projects), Begusarai, Munger, Hajipur, Mokama, Sultanganj, Naugachia, Barh, Bhagalpur, Sonepur, Chhapra, Khagaria, Bakhtiyarpur, Maner, Fatuha, Danapur, Phulwarishariff, Buxar, Barahiya and Kahalgaon.

These projects will facilitate in treatment of 651.5 million litres per day of sewage through creation and rehabilitation of STPs, sewerage network, allied interception and diversion works. Also, two projects for in-situ drain treatment for Danapur Cantonment drain and Rajapur drain in Patna have been sanctioned at a cost of Rs 3.16 crore, according to the report. 

Water body restoration 

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on June 23, 2020 directed the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) to prepare guidelines for the restoration of water bodies and also involve village communities for the purpose. The court was hearing an application for the restoration of the sadar talab water body at Kadaura town in Jalaun district. 

A factual and action-taken report from the district magistrate and the UPPCB stated that the sewage of Kadaura Nagar Panchayat was being disposed off into the pond due to which its water quality had been affected. 

The NGT directed that immediate remedial action be taken on the matter. “The restoration of water bodies is significant for the protection of the environment, availability of drinking water, recharge of ground water, harvesting of rain water and microclimate,” the order said. 

Yashyashvi Rasayan 

The Supreme Court on June 22 directed Yashyashvi Rasayan Pvt Ltd to approach the NGT for modification of the tribunal’s order on the payment of compensation to displaced persons because of the explosion at its chemical factory at Dahej, Bharuch district, Gujarat. 

On payment of Rs 15 lakh by way of interim compensation on account of death, the company had no objection, its counsel, Harish Salve said. It also did not object to the payment of Rs 5 lakh per person in case of grievous injuries and Rs 2.5 lakh towards injuries caused to persons hospitalised, as ordered by the NGT.

However, with respect to the displacement of 4,800 persons, the compensation of Rs 25,000 per person had been ordered by the NGT. The counsel said there might have been displacement of people only for a few hours and therefore, the compensation awarded was on a higher side.

The SC asked the NGT to “reassess the compensation, if necessary, in the light of the data to be placed before it.” The apex court gave 10 days to make the payment but the disbursement of the amount to the displaced persons would remain stayed till a fresh decision was taken by the NGT. 

Rath Yatra in Puri 

The Supreme Court on June 22 allowed the annual Rath Yatra in Puri, Odisha, subject to certain conditions. 

The top court in its June 18 order had restrained holding of the Rath Yatra this year in view of the danger presented by the gathering of 100,000-120,000 lakh devotees for 10-12 days due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The apex court observed that any spread of the novel coronavirus due to the Rath Yatra would be disastrous due to the large number of persons and the impossibility of tracking all the infected people after they go back to their homes.

“While we do not have the official copy of the gazette itself, we are informed that in the 18th-19th century yatra of this kind was responsible for the spread of cholera and plague,” the SC said.

The state of Odisha, in the affidavit filed, informed the court that it would be possible to conduct Rath Yatra in Puri “in a limited way without public attendance”.

This was proposed by Gajapati Maharaj of Puri, the Chairman of Puri Jagannath Temple Administration.

The SC observed that if it were possible to ensure that there was no public attendance, there was no reason why the Rath Yatra could not be conducted safely along its usual route from temple to temple. It directed that the Rath Yatra be held if the conditions laid down by the SC were followed.

The conditions  include closing of all entry points  into the city of Puri (airports, railway stations, bus stands) during the period yatra and imposition of curfew in Puri on all days.

Each rath should be pulled by not more than 500 persons, each of whom would be tested for the virus.

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