Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (July 10, 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: Friday 10 July 2020

NGT warns UP Chief Secretary

An order allowing brick kilns to operate in Uttar Pradesh — passed by the state’s chief secretary — was declared void by a two-member bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) July 9, 2020.

The bench — comprising of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Sonam Phintso Wangdi — said the chief secretary’s order was in violation of an earlier court order.

The matter related to illegal operation of brick kilns in Baghpat district, where 600 such kilns operated illegally. The kilns were 50-500 metres away from villages, resulting in a 40 per cent rise in cancer and asthma cases in their vicinity, said applicant Vikas Singh.

The NGT, in its November 15, 2019 order, directed the closure of polluting brick kilns.

It, however, come to the notice of the court that the chief secretary issued directions March 29 to the state’s district magistrates to allow brick kilns to operate during the lockdown to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Several brick kilns were closed during the lockdown because several labours went back to their respective home towns and villages. A few kilns, however, continued operations in compliance with directions given by the chief secretary.

The NGT reprimanded the chief secretary for going against its order. An expert report had clearly stated the operation of brick kilns was in violation of the area’s carrying capacity and resulted in air pollution in violation of the law, the court said.

The chief secretary was warned and told to be careful, failing which the court could resort to “direct prosecution, stoppage of salary and other coercive measures for violation of the order.”

Delhi groundwater

A Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) report uploaded to the NGT website July 9, elaborated on steps to arrest depleting groundwater levels in the National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCT).

The NGT in a May 15 order directed developing an effective mechanism for preventing extraction of groundwater through unauthorised tube wells and asked for prompt coercive measures for any illegalities found.

The CGWA informed the tribunal of an order it passed on May 25 involving the deputy commissioners of all nine districts of NCT.

The authority said it directed them to ensure implementation of the directions issued by it. The implementation of the CGWA’s groundwater recharge and roof top rainwater harvesting scheme was to be done as well.

The CGWA also asked the commissioners to curb the exploitation and sale of groundwater in NCT without fail.

Deputy Commissioners — on receiving complaints of violations under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 — must identify investigating officers and assign them the task of investigating violations.

Prosecution against offenders on the establishment of any violation must take place, the CGWA said.

This must be done either in a court of local jurisdiction through criminal complaints or through authorisation of local station house officers to register First Information Reports (FIR) against violations and violators.

Polluting industrial units in Jodhpur

An action-taken report against polluting textile units in Rajasthan’s Jodhpur was filed in the NGT July 8 by the Additional Superintendent of Police in charge of the Special Task Force (NGT).

This was the thirteenth progress report on action taken upto June 27. Forty-three FIRs were registered against the textile units found to be causing pollution in Jodhpur through the discharge of effluents, in violation of the provisions of existing legislations.

After due investigation and field work, 33 charge-sheets were filed in courts for legal action, said the report.

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