Court Digest: Major environment hearings of the week (June 29-July 3, 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
Published: Saturday 04 July 2020

Purushothapatnam Lift Irrigation Scheme needs EC: Report

A compliance report was submitted to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) April 28, 2020 — in pursuance of its order — by a joint committee over the legality of the Purushothapatnam Lift Irrigation Scheme (PLIS) undertaken by Andhra Pradesh.

A copy of the report was uploaded on the NGT website July 2.

The scheme was carried out to lift water from the Godavari river near Purushothapatnam village in Seethanagaram, East Godavari district, without obtaining an environment clearance (EC) according to procedures laid down in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification 2006.

PLIS used infrastructure of the Polavaram Project Scheme, without seeking an amendment of the EC granted for the said project.

A February 20 NGT order said such activities were not permissible without appropriate amendment to the EC or applying for an independent EC, as may be necessary.

To determine whether independent EC is required or amendment of existing EC is to be taken or any other course of action, the NGT directed the constitution of a joint committee.

The committee was asked to consider social and environmental aspects.

A meeting of the committee was held on March 5 under SK Jain, the chairman of the expert appraisal committee for river valley projects in the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

The major outcomes / observations of the meeting were:

  • The present set up is not only for drinking and industrial use but also for use of irrigation of the existing ayacut (area under an irrigation project). Therefore, the committee felt that since there is an irrigation component, EC should be obtained according to the EIA Notification, 2006.
  • Water balance / use is to be provided at each stage to clarify how much should be used for different purposes.
  • The left main canal of the Polavaram project must receive water from the Polavaram reservoir. PLIS currently transports water to Yeleru reservoir for which a no objection certificate needs to be obtained from the Polavaram Project authorities.
  • Consent to Establish and Consent to Operate for the present lift scheme should be obtained.
  • Necessary permission / clearance needs to be obtained from the Central Water Commission.
  • When the project proponent will come to seek the EC, the Social Impact Assessment should be dealt with during the appraisal process according to the guidelines of EIA Notification, 2006.

Need info on volatile organic compounds: NGT

The NGT directed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on June 30 to file a report on how the assessment of volatile organic compounds (VOC) was done in the outskirts of Maharashtra capital Mumbai.

The issue was over remedial steps being taken for control of air pollution at and around Ambapada and Mahul villages.

The major contributors to air pollution were logistics services storing oil, gas and chemical items and oil companies releasing emissions. The emissions included VOCs on account of loading, storage and unloading hazardous chemicals at various stages.

The CPCB earlier filed a report on March 18 which assessed the value of the damage to the environment, public health and the proportion in which the amount should be recovered from identified contributors.

The court went through the report and applications of those seeking compensation of Rs 1.5 crore. Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd and Aegis Logistics Ltd raised objections to the report on the quantum of VOCs emitted.

They sought directions to the CPCB to disclose the basis of its assessment of quantum of VOCs which they said was unjustified.

Illegal mining in Mahendragarh

An action taken report was filed by the Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) in compliance to a March 6 NGT order over illegal mining by M / s Haryana Mining Company at Garhi village in Mahendragarh district.

The mining was in violation of the Indian Forest Act, 1927, the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

The area in question was inspected on June 16 by a joint committee and it was found that the operation of M / s Haryana Mining Co, Garhi, was closed and no mining activity was observed at the site.

The lease of the Haryana Mining Co had been terminated on January 10 due to illegal mining beyond the allotted area of the lease and non-deposition of royalty. Hence, their security, which was deposited at the time of obtaining lease agreement, was forfeited.

The forest department also said the lease holder destroyed 597 plants / trees during the execution of illegal mining activities in Garhi village on June 18, 2016 and a damage report was issued against the miner and action taken against him in the Special Environment Court, Faridabad.

The court also ordered him to pay a sum of Rs 1,21,788 as compensation, which was paid in court.

Rewalsar lake pollution

The NGT on June 29 directed that continuous efforts should be made by the administration to protect the Rewalsar lake in Himachal Pradesh’s Mandi district.

A report filed by the Mandi District Magistrate informed the NGT that the surroundings of the lake were cleaned everyday by the Rewalsar’s nagar panchayat. Further, drains had been constructed around the lake to prevent waste from entering it and these drains were also cleaned regularly.

Hotels and houses / residential accommodation in Rewalsar had their own septic tanks. However, a new sewerage network scheme worth Rs 1.5 crore was sanctioned for the town and was being constructed by the irrigation and public health department.

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