NGT | Is it necessary to take consent under Water and Air Act to establish garbage processing plant? Tribunal directs closure of plant

National Green Tribunal (NGT): The Bench of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel (Chairperson) and Justice Sheo Kumar Singh (Judicial Member), Dr Satyawan Singh Garbyal and Dr Nagin Nanda (Exper Members) directs closure of garbage processing plant by Pune Municipal Corporation and to shift the same at any other place in light of same being in violation of right of the inhabitants to a pollution-free environment.

Present application was filed with a purpose to restrain respondent 7 from operating garbage processing plant at the present site on the ground of violation of environmental norms.

The said site was allotted by the Pune Municipal Corporation. Odour from the said plant is spread in the area. It has been added that the said land was reserved for bio-diversity park in the Development Plan which had been subsequently changed. No NOC from Airport Authority was also taken. Truck with garbage were transported without safeguards.

Environmental Clearance was granted in the year 2016 without following due procedure.

There sees to be a violation of Rule 20 of the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 which provides that location of such plant on a hill area is to be avoided unless no other land is available in which case suitable safeguards mentioned therein are to be followed.

In view of the above plant remained closed till January, 2019 and started again on 01-02-2019 on which the present application has been filed.

 Decision

Bench found that consent to establish the plant was required under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, and the said consent was no taken.

As per the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016, furnishing of consent to establish is required before any authorization is given under the said Rules.

Adding to the above, tribunal stated that, the authorization is to be preceded by the consent to establish. Thereafter, there has to be consent to operate from time to time.

Apart from the above-stated procedural shortcoming, bench fond that the location of the plant at hillock and in the vicinity of habitation is not desirable and is at the cost of the right of the inhabitants to a pollution-free environment.

During the joint inspection, odour was found in and around the premises which itself violates the rights of the inhabitants in the vicinity.

It was found that the plant was within the prohibited distance and no place for the development of a green belt was found.

Hence the plant was found to be in violation of the right to clean environment of the inhabitants and against the statutory norms.

Tribunal directed PMC to close the plant at the present location and shift the same to any other location within four months from today, following the siting guidelines issued by the CPCB. The present site may be preferably used for originally designated purpose for developing a bio-diversity park.

Bench held that the State PCB is at liberty to recover environmental compensation on ‘Polluter Pays’ principle for the period of violation of environmental norms, after following due procedure of law.[Sus Road Baner Vikas Manch v. Pune Municipal Corpn.,  2020 SCC OnLine NGT 855, decided on 27-10-2020]

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