Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (March 16, 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: Friday 17 March 2023
Down To Earth brings you top environmental cases heard in Supreme Court, high courts & National Green Tribunal

Elephant corridors in Odisha

The National Green Tribunal (NGT), on March 14, 2023, expressed displeasure over the lack of progress made by the Odisha government in notifying elephant corridors in the state.

The tribunal had directed the Odisha government to notify elephant corridors and the action plan for elephant conservation in August 2021, but the state failed to comply with the order.

The NGT has issued a show-cause notice to the state’s principal chief conservator of forests and chief wildlife warden. The officials were directed to file a personal affidavit “showing cause as to why action may not be taken against him under Section 26 of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010. The matter has been listed for April 6, 2023.

The 2021 directions mandated the authorities to file an affidavit of compliance within two months regarding notification of the corridors as identified by the Asian Nature Conservation Foundation. Till now, the authorities have not submitted any action taken report.

Barge capsize in Sundarbans

The NGT directed the principal secretary of the environment department, the West Bengal State Pollution Control Board and the Inland Waterways Authority of India to file a status report on the pollution caused by a fly ash barge that capsized in Sundarbans in February this year.

The tribunal, on March 13, was responding to an application filed by Dakshin Banga Matsyajibi Forum.

The barge was allegedly carrying fly ash from India to Bangladesh. Its capsize due to an accident led to the spilling of fly ash into the sea, causing environmental damage to the riverine ecology of the Sundarbans, the forum stated in its application filed on March 1.

Air pollution

The NGT directed a four-member committee to look into a complaint related to high ash content in the emissions from the JSW (BPSL) Power and Steel Ltd, Sambalpur, Odisha.

The tribunal, on March 13, was responding to a petition filed by the farmers residing near the vicinity of the plant.

The report, mentioning environmental damage due to the emissions as well as remedial measures to be taken, should be filed within four weeks, the tribunal added.

Complaints on the matter have been filed before various authorities in the past. The NGT also directed officials to explain the actions taken on the same.

The green body noticed that the applicants had made a complaint regarding the same to the Odisha State Pollution Control Board and district magistrate, Sambalpur.

The plant has been releasing coal ash into the air, damaging air, water, cultivable land and reserve forest, the petitioners alleged.

Further, the unit is situated close to their farmlands. Also, heavy vehicles plying here with finished products and raw materials cause extensive air pollution. The company has not adopted any measures for dust control, the petitioners added.

Sand mining

The NGT directed a committee to investigate allegations of illegal sand mining along the banks of the Baitarani river, Jajpur district, Odisha.

The tribunal, on March 13, was responding to a petition. The petitioner alleged that sand mining on the banks had violated the conditions laid down in the environmental clearance dated March 30, 2021. Miners have been engaging heavy trucks for transporting sand over the village road, the petitioner said.

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