Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (January 20, 2023)

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: Monday 23 January 2023

Prepare environment plans: NGT

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) ordered chief secretaries of all the states to prepare and update environmental plans at district, state and national levels on an annual basis.

A bench of judges headed by Adarsh Kumar Goel was responding to a petition January 17, 2023.

The judgement was passed in continuation of a 2022 NGT order which directed state authorities to enforce and update District Environment Plans (DEP) in line with the constitutional provisions dealing with local self-governments.

The NGT first issued a direction for preparing such a plan on July 15, 2019. A report submitted by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) October 10, 2022, informed the tribunal about the steps taken to prepare DEP.

Of the country’s 738 districts, plans have been prepared for 640 districts. In 98 districts, plans are yet to be prepared, the report stated.

After going through the reports, the tribunal expressed satisfaction. Further action needs to be taken by the concerned states and Union Territories in light of observations and recommendations mentioned in the CPCB monitoring committee report.

DEPs must contain all relevant data on different thematic subjects, covering each city, town and village, with identified gaps in compliance and budgetary support.

The remaining 98 districts must expeditiously prepare DEPs, preferably within three months. CPCB should follow up with concerned states, the order said. Progress in the implementation of the plan must be displayed on the website by January 31 of every year.

Likewise, State Environment Plans should be finalised by February 28 every year and displayed on respective state websites. A consolidated national plan may also be filed with the Registrar General of the tribunal by April 30 every year, the order added.

NGT slaps Rs 2 crore on Agra Development Authority

The NGT slapped a fine of Rs two core on the Agra Development Authority (ADA) for allowing a builder to develop a housing colony without the requisite infrastructure.

The amount should be used for the restoration of damage inflicted on the environment, the tribunal said while responding to a petition January 18.

The petition had raised complaints against the state authorities’ failure to prevent the housing colony’s residents from discharging sewage on open land near Shamshabad Road. An estimated 0.145 million litres of sewage is discharged here every day, the petitioner alleged.

Untreated sewage is being discharged on the land and there are no proper drainage systems, found a joint committee report submitted in February, 2022.

Based on the issue, an action-taken report was filed by the principal secretary of urban development, Uttar Pradesh, December 12, 2022.

An FIR has been lodged against the developer and the Uttar Pradesh PCB has levied a compensation of Rs 2,13,98,438 against the developer, the report said.

Mahendragarh: NGT imposes fine on stone crushers

The NGT has levied a fine of Rs 20 lakh each on stone-crushing units operating in Charkhi Dadri and Mahendragarh districts of Haryana for violating environmental norms.

The tribunal has directed stone crushers to limit their operations within the carrying capacity of the area. 

The tribunal directed authorities to initiate remedial action after recovering compensation for past violations.

“We also fix interim compensation at the rate of Rs 20 Lakhs against each of the stone crushers operating in area 27 on ‘Polluter Pays’ principle,” the NGT said.

 The amount should be used for the restoration of the environment in the area. Final compensation would be fixed by the joint committee comprising the district magistrate of Mahendragarh, member secretary of PCBs, CPCB and the forest department.

The units which have been identified as non-compliant may be closed immediately. The units that are not identified but operating in violation of norms may also be proceeded against for closure.

“In spite of the negative carrying capacity of the area in terms of air quality, large number of stone crushers are being permitted to continue,” the tribunal observed.

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