NGT | CPCB and SPCBs statutorily authorized to look into issues of air and water pollution and take remedial steps for the same

National Green Tribunal: A Coram of Adarsh Kumar Goel, J. (Chairperson) and S.P. Wangdi, Judicial Member, K. Ramakrishnan, Judicial Member and Dr Nagin Nanda, Expert Member directed the polluting units in the States of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh to take steps suggested by the Oversight Committee within the prescribed timelines and to ensure adherence to such timelines.

In the main application, the issue of pollution caused by the Thermal Power Plants by the discharge of mercury, storage of fly ash, transportation of coal, and others in the districts of Singrauli, Madhya Pradesh and Sonebhadra in Uttar Pradesh was raised before the Tribunal. As a result, a Core Committee was constituted which via its report of February 2018 gave some recommendations to deal with the issue.

To comply with these recommendations of the Core Committee, an Oversight Committee was constituted by the Tribunal in its previous order. The said committee gave the status of compliance with the recommendations of the Core Committee. The Ash Water Recycling Systems and Electrostatic Precipitators were reported functional, Online Continuous Emission Monitoring Systems were connected to the Central Pollution Control Board/State Pollution Control Board servers, ash ponds were still illegally overflowing in the Rihand reservoir, and others. In its conclusion, the Committee reported that, “the Committee has deliberated all the issues with Private stakeholders (Industries), Public Sector Units (TPPs, NCL), NGOs and local District Administrations. The status of the outcome of meetings and field visits are tabulated above. Time line has been defined for compliance of each direction issued by Hon’ble NGT. The follow-up is needed by the Oversight Committee with stakeholders through meetings and field visits for timely implementation of various directions.” The Committee also named some other thermal power plants and stone crushers in other districts of the State of Uttar Pradesh where similar problems existed and due attention was required.

The Tribunal accepted the recommendations of the Oversight Committee and requested it to pursue similar issues at the other places as well. It noted that Central and State Pollution Control Boards (CPCB & SPCB) have the statutory power to take remedial steps to check air and water pollution. It further ordered the polluting units to furnish Performance Guarantees at the satisfaction of CPCB to the extent assessed by the Committee. It further directed Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board (MPPCB) and Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) to furnish the existing status of ambient air quality and water quality of Rihand reservoir and other water bodies including groundwater, to the Oversight Committee. Directions were also given to the State Health Secretaries of MP and UP to provide a report on the health status of the citizens of the affected areas and the trends of diseases relating to pollution to the Committee at the earliest. Tribunal also ordered for a long term plan for providing potable water through pipelines, on priority.[Ashwani Kumar Dubey v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine NGT 61, decided on 03-01-2019]

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