National Green Tribunal
Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies


National Green Tribunal | While dealing a matter related to absence of proper management of end-of-life tyres/waste tyres (ELTs), a bench comprising of Adarsh Kumar Goel (Chairperson), Sudhir Agarwal (Judicial Member), JJ., and A. Senthil Vel (Expert Member) held that Tyre Pyrolysis Oil units (TPOs) need to follow ‘zero liquid’ and ‘zero emission’ norms and the carbon produced during the process needs to be utilized in cement industries rather than simply transported to landfills.

Social Action for Forest and Environment (SAFE), an environmental protection organization filed an application before the Tribunal complaining about the absence of proper management of ELTs.

Vide order dated 19-09-2019, the Tribunal considered the report by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) where it was suggested that “non complying units should take specified measures viz. those following ‘batch process’ should switch over to ‘continuous process’, feed to the continuous reactors should be in the form of tyre chips and mechanical feeding system should have air lock arrangements so that no air enters in the reactors.” The report also suggested that packed bed scrubber should be installed for control of gaseous emission and reduction of odour and the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) issued by of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEF&CC) for continuous process and the consent conditions issued by SPCBs/PCCs should be strictly followed by Tyre Pyrolysis Units. The Tribunal ordered remedial action against non-compliant units which included a levy of compensation under the ‘Polluter Pays’ principle.

Vide directions dated 04-10-2019 and 30-12-2019, the CPCB directed the SPCBs/PCCs to close down non-compliant units in order to maintain vigilance and to monitor compliance. The CPCB on 23-10-2021 submitted the study report and action taken report and vide order dated 25-10-2021, the Tribunal accepted the observations and recommendations of CPCB’s report. The Tribunal also directed further study on the issues related to necessary action for ensuring compliance of norms.

Incompliance with Tribunal’s order, the CPCB submitted its report dated 05-11-2022 consisting of the status of all Tyre Pyrolysis Units in the State and UT based on information furnished by the SPCBs.

The report compiled a compliance report of 17 states where Tyre Pyrolysis Units exist and out of 757 units, 349 units are complying with consent conditions and SOP of MoEF&CC and 216 units are non-compliant. Closure directions and show cause notices have been issued against the non-complying units. Many of the non-complying units have been closed and around 192 TPO units have been closed.

The Tribunal observed that gaps are still there regarding action taken against non-compliant units and units against whom action was taken to close them till compliance, even after taking against number of non-complaint units. The Tribunal stated that “Such gaps need to be bridged at the earliest in the interest of rule of law and environmental good governance.”

The Tribunal directed that TPOs are required to follow ‘Zero Liquid’ and ‘Zero Emission’ norms and instead of transporting the carbon produced during the pyrolysis process to landfills, the same needs to be utilised in the cement industry.

The Tribunal directed the immediate closure of non-compliant units.

“…we direct that non-compliant units be closed till compliance expeditiously. CPCB may finalize the classification of the units so that application norms can be enforced.”

The Tribunal further directed the CPCB and MOEF&CC to finalise a revised standard operating procedure (SOP) for the TPOs within one month and stated that “SOP may also provide for certifying the fuel quality standards of pyro-oil as per norms of the Petroleum Ministry.”

[Social Action for Forest & Environment (SAFE) v. Union of India, 2022 SCC OnLine NGT 258, decided on 07-11-2022]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Mr. Sanjay Upadhyay, Counsel for the Applicant;

Mr. Raj Kumar (Advocate) and Mr. Anand Kumar (Scientist E), Counsel for CPCB;

Mr. Saurabh Kulkarni, Counsel for Association of Rubber & Tyre Recycling Industries.

*Ritu Singh, Editorial Assistant has put this report together.

National Green Tribunal
Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Green Tribunal | The bench comprising of Adarsh Kumar Goel (Chairperson), Sudhir Agarwal (Judicial Member), JJ., and A. Senthil Vel (Expert Member), directed that old diesel generator sets must be discarded and be replaced with new ones.

In the instant matter, an application was filed by the applicant, Satish Govind with regards to violation of air quality norms by operation of diesel generators by the Management Board of the Windsor Park Residents Welfare Association (WPRWA) at Ghaziabad, UP.

The Applicant contended that the Windsor Park society has 12 towers of 10 to 23 floors, but the chimneys of all DG sets end right above the DG sets, thus releasing all exhaust emissions at the ground floor level. These chimneys are not extended to above the roof heights of the residential towers. The applicant also contended that many residents, especially ones living on lower floors, have been suffering from pollution for years and despite complaining to the Management Board of WPRWA verbally in meetings, no action was taken.

The Tribunal vide order dated 18-10-2021, directed them to enforce Graded Response Action Plane (GRAP) with regards to DG sets and called for remedial action for upholding the air quality and noise quality standards in the operation of DG sets. The Tribunal further directed the CPCB, State PCB and District Magistrate to take further remedial action and furnish an action taken report. The Tribunal stated that

“Potential for air pollution by diesel generator sets is well known. This requires effective safeguards and regulation by the statutory authorities for protection of public health and enforcement of rule of law. Air Act empowers the PCBs to take remedial action against operation of DG sets violating air quality norms.”

The Tribunal vide order 16-3-2022, issued the notice to Residents Welfare Association and directed the State of UP to issue a State-wide policy and monitoring mechanism to deal with similar violations. The Tribunal stated that:

“ the violations found in the present case are not limited to the present housing complex nor to Ghaziabad but other housing complexes in Ghaziabad and also in other cities in the State which may call for a State-wide policy and monitoring mechanism to remedy the situation after discussion of the matter at the level of State level authorities in UP in the light of mandate of law and earlier directions of this Tribunal. There is need to monitor operation of DG sets in Residential Societies and Commercial complexes with reference to use being of “Type Approved (TA)” category, cleaner fuel, acoustic control system with required stack height and being compliant with Regulations on the subject. There is also need for mechanism for creating awareness about need for compliance and also, for guidance for compliance.”

The Residents Welfare Association contended that the Tribunal should not deal with the matter as a dispute is pending before the Supreme Court with regards to certain issues between the developer and welfare association. The State via report contended that a task force is constituted for compliance against violations by setting up of DG sets throughout the State.

Rejecting the contention of the Residents Welfare Association, the Tribunal opined that both the matters are different, as the issue before the Tribunal is compliance of environmental norms in operating DG sets which is not same as before the Hon’ble Supreme Court.

The Tribunal opined that “Operation of DG sets in violation of environmental norms has to be stopped and for past violations, accountability fixed, following due process of law.”

The Tribunal directed that diesel generators that have been in use for more than 15 years need to be discarded and replaced by equipment that run on cleaner fuel. And also, new equipment must comply with norms, including proper stack height, which must be ensured by the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board and the District Magistrate, Ghaziabad.

[Satish Govind v. Park Residents Welfare Assn., 2022 SCC OnLine NGT 244, decided on 01-11-2022]

Advocates who appeared in this case:

Mr. Pradeep Misra and Mr. Daleep Dhyani, Counsel for UPPCB;

Mr. Sunil Sharma, Counsel for the Windsor Park Residents Welfare Association.

*Ritu Singh, Editorial Assistant has put this report together.

Calcutta High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Calcutta High Court | While deciding a matter related to sale of green firecrackers in West Bengal, the Division bench comprising of Apurba Sinha Ray and Joymalya Bagchi, JJ., directed the Pollution Control Board as well as the police authorities to ensure that there is no importation, sale or bursting of crackers other than the green crackers bearing QR Code in the State of West Bengal.

In the instant matter, a Public Interest Litigation was filled allegation the violation of Supreme Court’s green cracker norms provides in Arjun Gopal v. Union of India, (2019) 13 SCC 523, in the State of West Bengal. The petitioner contended that neither the State of West Bengal nor the State Pollution Control Board has formulated a mechanism to ensure sale and bursting of green crackers only, thus, resulting in severe noise and air pollution in the State in previous years. The petitioner prayed for a total ban on the sale of firecrackers in the State.

Opposing the total ban of firecrackers, the respondents contended that a similar issue was taken by the Supreme Court (Civil Appeal No. 6561 of 2021) and had set aside the order of total ban on firecrackers issued by the Calcutta High Court (WPA No. 282 of 2021). The respondents contended that the Supreme Court “remanded the matter for consideration of issuance of appropriate directions upon the state of West Bengal to ensure importation, sale and bursting of green crackers only in the State”.

The respondents also contended that a Division Bench of this Court had directed the Commissioners and the Superintendent of Police of the concerned districts in the State and the Home Secretary to regulate import, sale and bursting of crackers and appropriate steps had been taken for implementation of the directions issued by the Supreme Court in Goutam Roy v. State of W.B., 2021 SCC OnLine SC 3238, and by this Court in its order dated 03.11.2022.

The Court observed that there is no dispute regarding the parameters regarding sale and bursting of crackers in the State but with the mechanism for implementation.

The Court observed that it is the duty of the Pollution Control Board as well as the police authorities to ensure that there is no importation, sale or bursting of crackers other than the green crackers bearing QR Code in the State of West Bengal.

The Court directed the Pollution Control Board and the State of West Bengal to take appropriate measures including the following

  1. No firecrackers other than green crackers bearing QR Code would be sold in the Bazi-Bazar which is proposed to be held in Kolkata on and from 18.10.2022.
  2. State Pollution Control Board as well as the Commissioner of Police, Kolkata shall deploy appropriate number of personnel in the Bazi Bazar to ensure implementation of the aforesaid direction.
  3. The representatives of the State Pollution Control Board and the police personnel shall be at liberty to inspect the firecrackers which are sold at Bazi Bazar and the police personnel shall seize any banned firecrackers which are offered for sale in the bazar.
  4. Representatives of PESO/NEERI shall also be present at the Bazi Bazar and assist the Pollution Control Board/ police personnel to determine whether the firecrackers which are offered for sale bearing the requisite QR Code;
  5. Similar exercise shall be undertaken by Pollution Control Board and police authorities to prevent importation and sale of firecrackers other than green firecrackers bearing QR Code in any place in the State of West Bengal;
  6. All necessary steps shall be taken by the police authorities/PCB Officials to ensure only green crackers are burst during the festive season strictly in compliance with the directions of the Pollution Control Board vide Memo No. 321-3L/WPBE(VI)/2020 dated 26.10.2021.
  7. State Pollution Control Board and the State of West Bengal shall undertake public awareness measures including issuance of advertisements in newspapers, announcements on radio/ television/social media platforms etc. to spread awareness with regard to restrictions on sale and bursting of crackers during festive season and its beneficial impact on pollution and environment. It shall also make members of the public aware of the penal consequences arising from sale and bursting of banned crackers.

[Sabuj Mancha v. State of W.B., 2022 SCC OnLine Cal 3144, decided on 11.10.2022]

Advocates who appeared in this case:

Mr. R.N. Chakraborty and Mr. A. De, Counsel for the Petitioner;

Mr. Tapan Kumar Mukherjee and Ms. Saheli Mukherjee, Counsel for the State;

Mr. N.C. Bihani, Mrs. P.B. Bihani and Ms. K. Singh, Counsel for the WBPCB;

Mr. Biswaroop Bhattacharyya, Ms. Mayuri Ghosh, Ms. Madhushri Dutta, Ms. Easha Manchanda, Mr. Arnab Sengupta and Mr. Debarshi Dhar, Counsel for the Other Respondent.

*Ritu Singh, Editorial Assistant has put this report together.

Supreme Court of The United States
Case BriefsForeign Courts

Supreme Court of The United States (SCOTUS): In a decision that is being touted as a setback in the fight against climate change, the SCOTUS with a ratio of 6: 3, while deciding the instant petition challenging the authority of the Environment Protection Agency (hereinafter EPA) to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal- and natural-gas-fired power plants as per the Clean Power Plan, held that under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, the EPA was not granted the authority to devise emission caps based on the generation shifting approach by the Congress.

Factual Matrix: The Clean Air Act authorized the EPA to regulate power plants by setting a “standard of performance” for their emission of certain pollutants into the air. The standard varied for new and existing plants, but it was mandated that in each case the “best system of emission reduction” that the Agency has determined to be “adequately demonstrated” for the particular category, must be reflected.

Since passage of the Act 50 years ago, EPA had exercised this authority by setting performance standards based on measures that would reduce pollution by causing plants to operate more cleanly. However, in 2015, the EPA issued a new rule concluding that the “best system of emission reduction” for existing coal-fired power plants included a requirement that such facilities reduce their own production of electricity, or subsidize increased generation by natural gas, wind, or solar sources.

The Issue: Whether the afore-stated broader conception of EPA’s authority is within the power granted to it by the Clean Air Act?

Majority Observations: The majority opinion was delivered by John Roberts, CJ., in which Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett, JJ., joined.

  • The majority stated that major questions doctrine, given both separation of powers principles and a practical understanding of legislative intent, an agency must point to “clear congressional authorization” for the authority it claims. It was observed that the instant matter is a “major questions case” as the EPA “claimed to discover an unheralded power representing a transformative expansion of its regulatory authority in the vague language of a long-extant, but rarely used, statute designed as a gap filler”. The majority pointed out that the discovery allowed the EPA to adopt a regulatory program that Congress had conspicuously declined to enact itself. Thus, there is every reason to “hesitate before concluding that Congress” meant to confer on EPA the authority it claims under Section 111(d).
  • Prior to 2015, EPA had always set Section 111 emissions limits based on the application of measures that would reduce pollution by causing the regulated source to operate more cleanly, and never by looking to a “system” that would reduce pollution by “shifting” polluting activity “from dirtier to cleaner sources”. However, in such regulation, EPA set the emissions cap based on the use of “technologies that could be installed and operational on a nationwide basis” in the relevant timeframe, “The Agency nodded to the novelty of its approach when it explained that it was pursuing a “broader, forward-thinking approach to the design” of Section 111 regulations that would “improve the overall power system,” rather than the emissions performance of individual sources, by forcing a shift throughout the power grid from one type of energy source to another. This view of EPA’s authority was not only unprecedented; it also effected a “fundamental revision of the statute, changing it from [one sort of] scheme of . . . regulation” into an entirely different kind”.
  • The majority pointed out that as per EPA’s view of Section 111(d), Congress implicitly tasked it with balancing the many vital considerations of national policy implicated in the basic regulation of how Americans get their energy. However, in view of EPA’s admission that issues of electricity transmission, distribution, and storage are not within its traditional expertise, the majority noted that there is a doubt that the Congress ever intended to delegate decisions of economic and political significance, such as ‘how much coal-based generation there should be over the coming decades‘, to any administrative agency.

The Dissent: Justice Elena Kagan filed the dissenting opinion in which Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Stepehen Breyer joined.

  • Terming climate change to be the “the most pressing environmental challenge of our time”, the dissenting Judges expressed their disappointment over the majority decision of stripping the EPA of the Congress given power to respond to it. The Judges observed that Congress charged EPA with addressing the potentially catastrophic climatic harms, which included regulation of fossil-fuel-fired power plants via Section 111 of the Clean Air Act, which directed EPA to regulate stationary sources of any substance that “causes, or contributes significantly to, air pollution and that may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.
  • The dissenting Judges pointed out that right after the Obama administration issued the Clean Power Plan, this Court, in an unprecedented move, had stayed its implementation. The effect of the Court’s order, followed by the Trump administration’s repeal of the rule, was that the Clean Power Plan never went into effect.
  • The judges observed that while the majority finds in impossible for the Congress to grant such a wide power to the EPA, but “that is just what Congress did when it broadly authorized EPA in Section 111 to select the “best system of emission reduction” for power plants”. The Clean Air Act was major legislation, designed to deal with a major public policy issue. As Congress explained, its goal was to “speed up, expand, and intensify the war against air pollution” in all its forms and Section 111(d) ensured that EPA regulates existing power plants’ emissions of all pollutants.
  • Regarding delegations of power, the dissenting Judges stated that the Congress knows about how government works in ways courts do not. “Congress knows what mix of legislative and administrative action conduces to good policy. Courts should be modest”. However, expressing dismay over the majority ruling, the Judges noted that Section 111, if naturally read, authorizes EPA to develop the Clean Power Plan-to decide that generation shifting is the “best system of emission reduction” for power plants churning out carbon dioxide. “Nothing in the Clean Air Act, or any other statute, suggests that Congress did not mean for the delegation it wrote to go as far as the text says. In rewriting that text, the Court substitutes its own ideas about delegations for Congress’s. And that means the Court substitutes its own ideas about policymaking for Congress’s. The Court will not allow the Clean Air Act to work as Congress instructed. The Court, rather than Congress, will decide how much regulation is too much”.

In the closing comments, Justice Elena Kagan strongly stated that, “Whatever else this Court may know about, it does not have a clue about how to address climate change (…) The stakes here are high. Yet the Court today prevents congressionally authorized agency action to curb powerplants’ carbon dioxide emissions. The Court appoints itself-instead of Congress or the expert agency-the decision-maker on climate policy. I cannot think of many things more frightening”.

[West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, 2022 SCC OnLine US SC 11, decided on 30-06-2022]

*Sucheta Sarkar, Editorial Assistant has prepared this brief.

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Green Tribunal (NGT), Southern Zone, Chennai: While imposing a fine of Rs 41.21 crores on Singareni Collieries Company Limited, for violation of environmental clearance conditions and mining excess coal, the Coram of Justice K. Ramakrishnan (Judicial Member) and Dr Satyagopal Korlapati (Expert Member) expressed that,

“The Government Corporations are expected to be more law abiding and if any leniency or discrimination is shown for committing violation, then it is very difficult to maintain the rule of law, if any violations were committed by other persons. There will not be any moral right for the regulators to take action against others, if similar violations were committed by them.”

A resident of Telangana filed an application regarding the violation committed by respondent 1 in respect of violation of conditions in the Environmental Clearance (EC) and Consent granted and also pollution caused on account of the operation of the unit.


It was alleged that the applicant along with 700 families were living adjacent to the Opencast Coal Mine operated by respondent 1 facing severe air, noise and water pollution besides severe heat due to massive blasting, drilling, and extraction of coal in the Opencast Mine.

Analysis and Decision

Tribunal noted that the grievance of the applicants was that, SCCL, a Government-owned public sector undertaking corporation had conducted their operation without necessary clearances and also in violation of the conditions of the Environmental Clearance (EC) granted and also doing excess mining, causing pollution to the neighbouring water bodies and properties of the residents of the locality both air and sound. Damage was being caused on account of the indiscriminate unscientific manner in which blasting was being done.

In a way it was admitted by the SCCL themselves that they had done excess mining than the permitted quality and when they applied for an expansion of the project, it was treated as a violation case, hence proceedings were initiated by filing a complaint under Section 19 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

The Joint Committee, after conducting the Ambient Air Quality and Vibration Study, found that the Ambient Air Quality and the sound level were within the permissible limit and the pollution control mechanism provided was adequate and that was not causing any dust pollution as claimed by the applicants.

The Joint Committee had come to the conclusion that except for excess mining and also partial cause for damage to the houses on account of the vibration caused during blasting, there was no other violation noted by the Joint Committee. 

It is seen from the report that excess mining was done at the instance of the Government to meet the supply of coal to thermal power stations to meet the power demand. It may be mentioned here that though it is a Government owned corporation, they are not expected to exploit natural resources, as no one including the Government said to be the owners of the natural resources are only the trustees to hold the natural resources to be used in a scientific manner so as to make the natural resources available for the generation to come, applying the “Doctrine of Public Trust”. 

Further, it was noted from the Joint Committee that on account of excess mining, they earned a profit of Rs 588.60 Crores in 11 years and 3% of that amount namely, Rs 17.65 Crores had to be contributed to remediation and including this amount, an amount of Rs 26,67,00,000/- (Rupees Twenty Six Crores and Sixty Seven Lakhs only) was directed to be produced as Bank Guarantee, which they had produced.

Coram directed the Mining Department to calculate the penalty for the excess mining done in view of the Supreme Court directions issued in Common Cause v. Union of India, (2017) 9 SCC 499.

Considering the period of violation, Tribunal opined that instead of 3% (Three percent), 10% (Ten percent) of the profit namely, Rs 58.86 Crore (Rs.588.60 Crore x 10%) can be imposed as compensation for excess mining and deducting Rs.17.65 Crores which was directed to be utilized for remediation purpose, the balance amount of Rs. 41.21 Crores will have to be paid by the Singareni Collieries Company Limited (SCCL) as compensation for excess mining done by them and this amount will have to be paid to the Telangana State Pollution Control Board within a period of 3 (Three) months.

Telangana State Pollution Control Board was directed to identify the persons whose houses were damaged due to vibration caused on account of blasting and quantify the amount required for repairing the houses.

SCCL was directed to comply with the recommendations of the Joint Committee and also conditions imposed in the Environmental Clearance (EC) already granted and subsequently granted for their combined expansion project, enhancing the capacity to 5 MTPA.

The gist of the Directions

(i) The Singareni Collieries Company Limited (SCCL) is directed to pay a compensation of Rs 41.21 Crores [i.e. Rs.58.86 Crores (10% of the profit) – Rs 17.65 Crores (3% of the profit) which was directed to be adjusted towards the remediation plan] within a period of 3 (Three) months with the Telangana State Pollution Control Board and if the amount is not paid within that time, the State Pollution Control Board is directed to take steps to recover the amount from them by requesting the District Collector to initiate revenue recovery proceedings.

(ii) The Mining Department is directed to calculate the penalty payable for the excess mining done in view of the directions issued by the Supreme Court in Common Cause V. Union of India (2017) 9 SCC 499, as even at the time when it was treated as a violation case, the project proponent/SCCL has filed an undertaking that they will abide by the directions issued by the Supreme Court in Common Cause’s case cited supra.

(iii) The Telangana State Pollution Control Board in consultation with the District Collector of the concerned area, identify the persons whose houses have been damaged as observed by the Joint Committee partially due to vibration caused on account of blasting during the initial stages and the amount required for repairing the houses will have to quantified and the same will have to be paid to those persons whose houses have been identified as damaged on account of the operation of the Singareni Collieries Company Limited (SCCL) and this amount will have to be realized from SCCL. The environment compensation amount will have to be utilized for the purpose of preparing a welfare scheme for protecting the welfare and interest of the people who are residing in and around the coal mining area who are likely to be affected by the project activities and also a portion of the out of compensation will have to be utilized for meeting the welfare of the Tribal settlement, if any, situated in Khammam District or nearby districts. Mode of welfare scheme etc. will have to be evolved by the Committee appointed by this Tribunal for this purpose.

(iv) The preparation of scheme must be in consultation with the Chief Secretary to Government, State of Telangana and the Special Chief Secretary to Government – Department of Environment, Science & Technology and that will have to be jointly implemented by the State Pollution Control Board and the concerned District Collector.

(v) The Singareni Collieries Company Limited (SCCL) is directed to comply with the recommendations of the Joint Committee and also conditions imposed in the Environmental Clearance (EC) already granted and subsequently granted for their combined expansion project, enhancing the capacity to 5 MTPA. The expanded project can be permitted to be carried by the project proponent namely, the Singareni Collieries Company Limited (SCCL) after complying with the direction issued by the MoEF&CC while granting the Environmental Clearance (EC) as violation case and also after depositing the amount as directed by this Tribunal as compensation for excess mining done over and above the permitted quantity mentioned in the Environmental Clearance (EC) earlier granted.

(vi) In order to monitor the implementation of certain CSR Projects said to have been launched by the project proponent, we appoint a Joint Committee under the chairmanship of the Special Chief Secretary to Government, Department of Environment, Science and Technology, State of Telangana with following members (i) a Senior Officer from the Integrated Regional Office, MoEF&CC, Hyderabad, and (ii) the District Collector – Khammam District and they are directed to monitor the compliance of the Environmental Clearance (EC) conditions and also the projects said to have been launched by the SCCL in compliance with the direction issued in the Environment Remediation Plan as well as their CER activities and if they did not comply with the same, the MoEF&CC is directed to take appropriate action for violation of the conditions of the Environmental Clearance (EC) against the SCCL.

(vii) The Telangana State Pollution Control Board is directed to monitor the pollution control mechanism and compliance of conditions in the Environmental Clearance (EC) and Consent granted periodically and if there is any violation found, then they are directed to take appropriate action against the SCCL in accordance with law.

(viii) The Singareni Collieries Company Limited (SCCL) is also directed to take all necessary precautions to avoid complaints of pollution being caused on account of their operation both air and soil and also control the vibration and sound that is likely to be emanated during blasting operation to avoid complaints from the nearby residents.

(ix) The Singareni Collieries Company Limited (SCCL) is also directed to provide necessary greenbelt and also other pollution control mechanism to avoid air and dust pollution being caused. They are also directed not to discharge any trade effluents or liquid waste generated during the operation of their mine and they are directed to strictly implement the ZLD within their unit.

(x) The Singareni Collieries Company Limited (SCCL) is also directed to expedite the laying of railway track and complete the same and take steps to transport the coal using railway line instead of road as directed to be complied with within the timeline specified in the Environmental Clearance (EC) granted.

In view of the above directions, the applications were disposed. [Banothu Nandu Nayak v. Singareni Collieries Company Ltd., 2022 SCC OnLine NGT 127, decided on 6-5-2022]

Advocates before the Tribunal:

O.A. No.174/2020 (SZ):

For Applicant(s): Mr. Sravan Kumar.

For Respondent(s): Mr. A. Sanjeev Kumar, Spl. Govt. Pleader for R1. Mrs. Me. Saraswathy for R2.

Mr. T. Sai Krishnan for R3.

Mrs. H. Yasmeen Ali for R4 & R5.

O.A. No.20/2021 (SZ):

For Applicant(s): Mr. Sravan Kumar.

For Respondent(s):

Mrs. Me. Saraswathy for R1.
Mr. T. Sai Krishnan for R2.
Mr. A. Sanjeev Kumar, Spl. Govt. Pleader for R3

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Division Bench comprising of Indira Banerjee*and J.K. Maheshwari, JJ., held that although to protect future generations and to ensure sustainable development, it is imperative that pollution laws be strictly enforced, were the adverse consequences of denial of ex post facto approval of Environment Clearance outweigh the consequences of regularization of operations by grant of ex post facto approval, and the establishment concerned otherwise conforms to the requisite pollution norms, ex post facto approval should be given in accordance with law, in strict conformity with the applicable Rules, Regulations and/or Notifications.

Question of Law

The question of law to be answered was that whether an establishment employing about 8000 workers, which has been set up pursuant to Consent to Establish (CTE) and Consent to Operate (CTO) from the concerned statutory authority and has applied for ex post facto EC can be closed down pending issuance of Environmental Clearance (EC), even though it may not cause pollution and/or may be found to comply with the required pollution norms.

Grievance of the Appellants

The Appellants carry on business, inter alia, of manufacture and sale of basic organic chemicals, namely, Formaldehyde. The manufacturing units fell in the category of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) as defined under the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Act, 2006.

It was the case of the Appellants that they were under bona fide impression that EC was not required for setting up units which manufactured Formaldehyde. Even the Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) itself was not sure of whether EC was required for such units. The appellants contended that on the basis of CTE granted by HSPCB, they had set up their units taking huge loans from banks for which repayments had to be paid in installments.

Impugned Order of NGT

Considering that the HSPCB itself was under the misconception that prior EC was not necessary for units of the Appellants, Department of Environment and Climate Change of the Government of Haryana had took a policy decision dated 10-11-2020 to allow the units which did not have prior EC to operate for six months, on condition that they would apply for EC within sixty days. Pursuant to which a Non-Governmental Organisation,  “Dastak” filed an application before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) challenging the order dated 10-11-2020 passed by the State of Haryana. The NGT held that establishments which did not have prior Environmental Clearance (EC) could not be allowed to operate.

Related Notifications

Noticeably, the Central Government issued a notification being S.O. 804(E) dated 14-03-2017 providing for grant of ex post facto EC for project proponents who had commenced, continued or completed a project without obtaining EC. Further, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change issued a draft notification for dealing with cases of violation of the notification with regard to EC. It was proposed that cases of violation would be appraised by the Appraisal Committee with a view to assess whether the project had been constructed or operated at a site which was permissible under prevailing laws and could be run sustainably on compliance of environmental norms with adequate environmental safeguards. Closure was to be recommended if the findings of the Appraisal Committee were in the negative. If the Appraisal Committee found that such unit had been running sustainably upon compliance of environmental norms with adequate environment safeguards, the unit would be prescribed appropriate Terms of Reference (TOR) after which the procedure for grant of EC would follow.

Factual Analysis

The Appellants duly applied for EC in respect of their manufacturing units and the Expert

Appraisal Committee, after scrutinizing their applications and finding the units suitable for grant of EC in terms of the prevailing guidelines, conducted a public hearing to finalize the cases of the Appellants for issuance of Terms of Reference. Hence, the Bench noted that ToR was already granted, a public hearing had been conducted and only the last procedural step of issuance of EC was left. The Bench observed:

  • The units of the Appellants were totally non-polluting units having “Zero Trade discharge”.
  • They had been in operation for many years in good faith with valid CTOs granted by the HSPCB.
  • The units were not causing pollution hazards. The only thing against the units was the procedural lapse of not obtaining EC.
  • The manufacturing units of the Appellants appoint about 8,000 employees and have a huge annual turnover.

The Bench held that the requirement to obtain EC is non-negotiable and EC is granted on condition of the suitability of the site to set up the unit, from the environmental angle, and also existence of necessary infrastructural facilities and equipment for compliance of environmental norms. However, the Bench stated,

“An establishment contributing to the economy of the country and providing livelihood ought not to be closed down only on the ground of the technical irregularity of not obtaining prior Environmental Clearance irrespective of whether or not the unit actually causes pollution.

Validity of Ex-post Facto Environmental Clearance

The Bench clarified that although it had been held in Electrosteel Steels Ltd. v. Union of India, 2021 SCC online SC 1247, that ex post facto Environmental Clearance should not ordinarily be granted, and certainly not for the asking, however the same cannot be declined with pedantic rigidity, oblivious of the consequences of stopping the operation of mines, running factories and plants; particularly when the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 does not prohibit ex post facto Environmental Clearance.

Holding that the grant of ex post facto EC in accordance with law, in strict compliance with Rules, Regulations, Notifications and/or applicable orders, in appropriate cases, where the projects are in compliance with, or can be made to comply with environment norms is not impermissible, the Bench remarked,

“The Court cannot be oblivious to the economy or the need to protect the livelihood of hundreds of employees and others employed in the project and others dependent on the project, if such projects comply with environmental norms.”

However, the Bench added that under no circumstances can industries, which pollute, be allowed to operate unchecked and degrade the environment, therefore, ex post facto environmental clearance should not be granted routinely, but in exceptional circumstances taking into account all relevant environmental factors.


In the light of the above, the Bench directed the government to decide applications of the Appellants for EC in accordance with law within one month and that pending decision, the operation of the manufacturing units, in respect of which consents had been granted and even public hearing held, should not be interfered with. The appeal was allowed and the impugned decision was set aside.

[Pahwa Plastics Pvt. Ltd. v. Dastak NGO, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 362, decided on 25-03-2022]

*Judgment by: Justice Indira Banerjee

Appearance by:

For the Appellants: Advocate Tarun Gupta

For the Respondents: Surender Singh Hooda[R-1], Sanjay Kumar Visen[R-9] and Gurmeet Singh Makker[R-11]

Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together

Business NewsHot Off The PressNewsTaxation

Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Union budget 2021-22 in the Parliament Today.

6 Pillars:

  • Health and Well-Being
  • Physical and Financial capital and infrastructure
  • Inclusive Development for Aspirational India
  • Reinvigorating Human Capital
  • Innovation and R&D
  • Minimum Govt., Maximum Governance


  • Three areas – Preventive health, curative health and well-being – to be strengthened
  • Urban Swachh Bharat Mission 2.0 will be implemented with more budget
  • New Centrally Sponsored Scheme PM Aatmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana to be launched, outlay of ₹ 64,180 crore over 6 years To develop capacities of health care systems, develop institutions for detection & cure of new and emerging diseases
  • Main Interventions under the above Scheme: Support for Health and Wellness Centres, Setting up Integrated Public Health labs in all districts,  Critical care hospital blocks,  Strengthening of NCDC
  • Supplementary Nutrition Programme & POSHAN Abhiyaan to be merged, Mission POSHAN 2.0 to be launched
  • To strengthen nutritional content, delivery & outcome
  • Intensified strategy for improving nutritional outcomes in aspirational districts
  • Proposals in Part A will strengthen the Sankalp of NATION FIRST 1. Doubling farmers’ income 2. Strong Infrastructure 3. Healthy India 4. Good Governance 5. Opportunities for Youth 6. Education for All 7. Women Empowerment, and 8. Inclusive Development
  • Urban Swachh Bharat Mission 2.0 with outlay of ₹ 1,41,678 crore over 5 years from 2021 Focused on complete fecal sludge management, waste water treatment, source segregation, management of waste from urban construction, bioremediation of legacy dump sites
  • ₹ 2,217 crore for 42 urban centres with million plus population, to tackle burgeoning problem of air pollution
  • Voluntary vehicle scrapping policy to phase out old and unfit vehicles Vehicles to undergo fitness test in automated fitness centres after 20 years (personal vehicles) and 15 years (commercial vehicles)
  • The pneumococcal vaccine, limited to only 5 states at present, to be rolled out across the country Will avert more than 50,000 child deaths annually.
  • ₹ 1.97 lakh crore over 5 years starting this FY, for Production Linked Incentive Schemes to create manufacturing global champions
  • Scheme of Mega Investment Textile Parks to be launched, in addition to PLI scheme, to create world class infra in textile sector, with plug-and-play facilities, to create global export champions 7 textile parks to be set up over 3 years
  • To give further thrust to National Infrastructure Pipeline, three concrete actions to be taken: Creating institutional structures, Monetizing assets, Increasing the share of capital expenditure in central and state budgets.
  • Professionally managed Development Financial Institution to be set up, to provide, enable & catalyze infra financing | ₹ 20,000 crore to capitalize this institution | Aim is to have lending portfolio of at least ₹ 5 lakh crore in 3 years.
  • National Monetization Pipeline of potential brownfield infrastructure assets to be launched, for monetizing operating public infra assets
  • Asset Monetization Dashboard to track progress and provide visibility to investors
  • Five operational roads being transferred to NHAI | ₹7,000 crore assets to be transferred to PGCIL | Railways to monetize dedicated freight corridor assets for O&M, after commissioning | Next lot of airports to be monetized for ops & mgmt. concessions
  • Sharp increase of 34.5% in capital expenditure as compared to previous budget estimates – resulting in the allocation of ₹ 5.54 lakh crore
  • ₹ 40,000 crores for programmes, projects and departments which show good progress in capital expenditure and which may be in need of further funds | More than ₹ 2 lakh crore for states and autonomous bodies for CAPEX (Capital Expenditure)
  • By March 2022, another 8,500 km of road projects to be awarded, additional 11,000 km of NH corridors to be completed, under Bharat Mala Pariyojna project
  • Enhanced outlay of ₹ 1,18,101 crore for
    MORTH India out of which ₹ 1.08 lakh crore is for capital, the highest ever provided
  • Western Dedicated Freight Corridor and Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor to be commissioned by June 2022
  • 100% electrification of rail broad gauge routes to be completed by December 2023
  • High-density rail networks and highly utilized rail routes to be provided with indigenously developed automatic train protection system which will eliminate train collision due to human error
  • a record sum of Rs 1,10,055 crores for Railways of which Rs. 1,07,100 crores is for Capital Expenditure only
  • New scheme at a cost of ₹ 18,000 crore for augmentation of public bus transport services will facilitate deployment of innovative PPP models enabling private players to finance, acquire, operate and maintain over 20,000 buses
  • MetroLite and Metro New Technologies to be deployed to provide metro rail systems in tier 2 cities and peripheral areas of tier 1 cities, at much lesser cost, with same experience, convenience and safety
  • Framework to be put in place, to provide consumers with alternatives to choose from, from among more than one power distribution company
  • Revamped, reforms-based, result-linked Power Distribution Sector Scheme to be launched, with outlay of ₹ 3,05,984 crore over 5 years
  • Seven port projects worth more than ₹ 2,000 crore to be offered by major ports in PPP Mode, in FY 2021-’22. To move to a model where private partner will manage operations of ports
  • Scheme for promoting flagging of merchant ships in India to be launched, by providing subsidy support to Indian shipping companies in global tenders floated by Ministries and CPSEs. ₹ 1,624 crore over 5 years for this.
  • Ship Recycling Capacities of around 4.5 million Light Displacement Tonnage to be doubled by 2024, expected to generate around 1.5 lakh jobs for youth.
  • Independent Gas Transport System Operator to be set up, for facilitation and coordination of booking of common gas carrier capacity, in all-natural gas pipelines, on a non-discriminatory and open access basis
  • A single and rationalized Securities Markets Code to be set up, by consolidating provisions of SEBI Act 1992, Depositories Act 1996, Securities Contracts Regulation 1956 and Govt. Securities Act of 2007.
  • Permanent institutional framework to set up, to instill confidence in corporate bond market participants during times of stress and enhance secondary market liquidity
  • To set up a system of regulated gold exchanges in the country, SEBI will be notified as regulator and Warehousing Dev. and Regulatory Authority will be strengthened ||For investor protection, Investor Charter as a right of all financial investors across all financial products to be introduced.
  • Additional capital infusion of ₹ 1000 crore to Solar Energy Corporation of India and ₹ 1500 crore to IREDA
  • Insurance Act 1938 to be amended, to increase permissible FDI limit in insurance companies from 49% to 74% and allow foreign ownership and control with safeguards.
  • FM states: Asset Reconstruction Company Ltd. to be set up to consolidate and take over existing stressed debts and manage and dispose of assets for eventual value realization
  • Deposit Insurance Cover for bank customers to be increased from ₹ 1 lakh to ₹ 5 lakh, provision to be streamlined to enable depositors get access to funds within insurance coverage limit.
  • Minimum loan size eligible for debt recovery under SARFAESI Act 2002, to be reduced from ₹ 50 lakh to ₹ 20 lakh, for NBFCs with minimum asset size of ₹ 100 crores.
  • Definition of small companies under Companies Act 2013 to be revised Companies with paid-up capital up to ₹ 2 crores & turnover up to ₹ 20 crores will fall under small companies, benefiting more than 2 lakh companies in compliance req.
  • To incentivize incorporation of one-person companies, such companies will be allowed to grow without any restriction on paid-up capital or turnover and to convert into any other type of company at any time.
  • NCLT framework will be strengthened, e-court system to be implemented, alternate debt resolution mechanism and special framework for MSMEs to be introduced, Data Analytics and AI-driven, MCA 21 version 3.0 to be introduced
  • Two public sector banks apart from IDBI and one general insurance company to be taken up for strategic disinvestment in 2021-’22 IPO of LIC also to be brought in.
  • Policy on Strategic Disinvestment of Public Sector Enterprises has been approved.
  • To further streamline Ease of Doing Business for cooperatives, a separate administrative structure for them to be set up.
  • Agricultural credit target enhanced to ₹ 16.5 lakh crore, focus will be on ensuring increased credit flow to animal husbandry, dairy and fisheries sectors.
  • Allocation for Rural Infrastructure Development Fund to be enhanced from ₹ 30,000 crores to ₹ 40,000 crore ₹ 5,000 crore Micro Irrigation Fund to be augmented by another ₹ 5,000 crores.
  • 1,000 more mandis to be integrated with National Agriculture Market or eNAM.
  • Agricultural Infrastructure Fund to be made available to APMCs for augmenting their infrastructure facilities.
  • Portal that will collect relevant information on gig workers, building and construction workers and others to be launched, to help formulate health, housing, skill, food, credit and insurance schemes for all migrant workers.
  • To further facilitate flow of credit to SCs and STs and women, margin money required to be reduced from 25% to 15%.
  • 100 new Sainik schools to be set up.
  • Higher Education Commission to be set up, legislation to be introduced this year for the same.
  • Central University to be set up in Leh, for providing accessible higher education in Ladakh.
  • Unit cost for setting up 750 Eklavya Model Residential Schools in tribal areas, increased from ₹ 20 crores per school to ₹ 38 crores, and to ₹ 48 crores per school in hilly and difficult areas.
  • ₹ 35,219 crores allocated for 6 years till 2025-26, to provide post-matric scholarship to 4 crore Scheduled Caste students.
  • National Apprenticeship Promotion and Training Scheme to be realigned, for providing post-education apprenticeship and training for graduates and diploma holders in engineering, over ₹ 3,000 crores to be provided for this.
  • National Research Foundation outlay will be ₹ 50,000 crores over 5 years
  • ₹ 1,500 crore for a new scheme which will provide financial incentives to promote digital payments.
  • National Language Translation Mission to be launched.
  • First unmanned launch of space flight ‘Gaganyaan’ slated for December 2021.
  • Public-Private Partnership mode for Operational Services at major ports. ₹1,624 crore subsidy support to Indian shipping companies to promote flagging of merchant ships in India.
  • Functioning of Tribunals to be further rationalized for speedier delivery of justice.
  • National Commission for Allied Healthcare Professionals Bill introduced, to ensure transparent and efficient regulation of 56 allied healthcare professions.
  • Customs duty hiked proposed on some mobile parts, auto parts and cotton.
  • National research foundation outlay to be Rs 50,000 crore, over 5 years.
  • Senior citizens above 75 years of age, having pension & interest income exempted from filing the tax return.
  • Decriminalization of the limited liability partnership (LLP) act, 2008 proposed.
  • Establishment of National Faceless Income Tax Appellate Tribunal Centre.
  • Rs 1000 crore to be provided for welfare scheme for tea workers of Assam & West Bengal especially women & children.
  • 7 new textile parks to be launched over 3 years.
Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Rafting per se does not cause any serious pollution of river or environment.

National Green Tribunal (NGT): The Bench of Justice Swatanter Kumar (Chairperson) and M.S. Nambiar (Judicial Member), Dr D.K. Agarwal (Expert Member) and Prof. A.R. Yousuf (Expert Member), allows rafting at Rishikesh but bans camping activity.

Reason for filing the present application

Being aggrieved by the haphazard and unregulated licensing of the river rafting camps operating in river Ganga from Shivpuri to Rishikesh on one hand which is a serious source of pollution of pristine river Ganga on one hand and encroachment and degrading of various areas, on the other hand, the instant application was filed.

The applicant organization has been raising various issues with regard to environmental protection across the country.

Rafting and Camping

In northern India, rafting is commonly exercised on the river Ganges near Rishikesh and the Beas River in Himachal Pradesh. Recent times have witnessed that the said area has been denoted as eco-tourism zone namely Kaudiyala-Tapovan eco-tourism zone where various activities besides rafting and camping have been permitted.

Activities of camping and rafting in a very huge number has caused excessive pressure on the river. On the said sites, either there are no toilet facilities, making people defecate in the open or where they exist they are in the nature of pit disposal.

Causes of Pollution 

During monsoon, the discharge remains to flow into the river, thereby causing pollution and interfering in the river eco-system. The tourists and rafters also throw polythene, wrappers and various kinds of bottles on the sites and on the river bed which ultimately flow into the river. Ganga is also polluted because of high use of detergents, soaps and shampoo.

State Government’s approach is violative of the doctrine of public trust as enunciated by the Supreme Court in the decision of M.C. Mehta v. Kamal Nath, (1997) 1 SCC 388 and Centre for Environment Law v. Union of India, (2013) 8 SCC 234.

  • Trees have been cut in the process of encroaching upon the forest area for the purpose of campsites and beach camps.
  • Noise and Air Pollution: Rafting campsites are located upstream and rafters are taken to the campsite in diesel vehicles, creating noise and air pollution.
  • Alcohol along with the food is served by the owners, the leftover of which flows into the river causing pollution.
  • Wildlife is being affected due to the above-stated camps and the increase in man-animal conflict.

Hence, on the applicant’s behalf, it was submitted that since rafting camps are a ‘non-forest activity’, therefore it cannot be carried on without clearance from the competent authority under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980.

Mushrooming of rafting camps cannot be termed as a sustainable development activity or a permissible eco-tourism activity.

Analysis and Decision

Following questions fall for determination of the Tribunal:

  1. Whether the application is barred by limitation in terms of proviso to Section 14 of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010?
  2. Whether setting up of temporary camps, particularly in the declared forest area amounts to non-forest activity and requires approval of the Central Government as contemplated in terms of Section 2 of the Conservation Act?
  3. Whether in the facts and circumstances of the present case, permitting the establishment of camps for a major part of the year and year after year amounts to temporary assignment by way of lease or otherwise to a private person of any forest land or portion thereof, in terms of sub-section (iii) of Section 2 of the Conservation Act attracts restriction contemplated under Section 2 of the Conservation Act?
  4. Whether it was permissible for the State of Uttarakhand to cover regulation of forests under the Rules of 2014 which were formed under clause (a) and (b) of sub-section 2 of Section 8 of Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board Act, 2001 (for short ‘Act of 2001’) when the field was already covered under the Central legislation, i.e., the Conservation Act?
  5. Whether eco-tourism in the forest area would squarely fall within the ambit and scope of the provisions of the Conservation Act and the letter dated 28th August, 1998 issued by MoEF is liable to be quashed?
  6. Whether camping site is a purely commercial activity and cannot be permitted in the forest land or on the banks of river Ganga, keeping its impact on the environment in mind and should be barred?
  7. If question no. 6 is answered in the negative, what should be the regulatory regime governing carrying on of such rafting and camping activities?
  8. What is the relevancy for determining the conduct of the State Government, private parties and the incidents of violation reported before the Tribunal?
  9. What directions should be issued by the Tribunal?


Whether the application is barred by limitation in terms of proviso to Section 14 of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010?

Under Section 14 of the NGT Act, the Tribunal has the jurisdiction to entertain and decide all civil cases where substantial question arises to environment (including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment) is involved and such question arising out of the implementation of the enactments specified in Schedule-I of the NGT Act.

The ‘cause of action first arose’ would have to be understood in reference to continuing cause of action, where the cause of action is recurring and is distinct or is a new cause of action.

Rafting and camping is an activity which has been carried on for years now. Rules were framed in 2014 by the State of Uttarakhand under which permission and licenses for rafting and camping respectively are to be granted.

According to the affidavit filed on behalf of the State, it is an annual feature and permission/license are granted from September to June every year. Thus, every year it is a fresh cause of action.

NGT’s larger bench has already stated that when an application is based on recurring cause of action then fresh cause of action would not be hit by the language of Section 14 of the NGT Act and each fresh event would give a fresh acsue of action and consequently the period of limitation of 6 months.

Applicant claims and has rightly invoked Precautionary Principle in terms of Section 20 of the NGT Act. The Precautionary Principle can be safely applied to protect and prevent the environment and ecology.

Tribunal stated that the issue in the present application was in regard to proper regulation of rafting and camping activity to prevent damage, degradation and pollution being caused in relation to the forest area, river bank and river Ganga. Hence, such an action would not be hit by limitation.


Whether setting up of temporary camps, particularly in the declared forest area amounts to non-forest activity and requires or not approval of the Centre as contemplated in terms of Section 2 of the Conservation Act?

Whether in the facts and circumstances of the present case, permitting establishment of camps for a major part of the year and year after year amounts to temporary assignment by way of lease or otherwise to a private person of any forest land or portion thereof, in terms of Section 2(iii)  of Conservation Act attracts restriction contemplated under Section 2 of the Conservation Act?

In the case of Lafarge Umiam Mining (P). Ltd. v. Union of India, (2011) 7 SCC 338 while referring to Section 2 of the Conservation Act the Supreme Court held that this is how the concept of prior approval from the Central Government comes into picture and thus prior determination of what constitute forest land is required to be done.

The State of Uttarakhand had issued permissions to carry on the non-forest activity in the reserved forest area under the provisions of relevant laws. It had also made a reference to MoEF vide its letter dated 31st July, 1998. This letter was responded by MoEF vide letter dated 24th August, 1998.

MoÉF expressed the view that camps on sandy stretch of river banks for rafting does not fall under the provision of Conservation Act and it is basically an eco tourism activity.

MoEF vide its letter dated 7-10-2014 issued guidelines for diversion of forest land for non-forest purposes or execution of temporary work in the forest land. Vide this letter it clarified that the work which does not involve any tree cutting, is a temporary work and the approval as contemplated under Section 2 of the Conservation Act is not required.

Till 1998 the view of MoEF was that camping should not be permitted in the sandy banks of the river and the forest area. However, the letter dated 28th August, 1998 made some variations.

Tribunal stated that,

“…provisions of Section 2 of the Conservation Act, therefore, must have precedence over any other law for the time being in force in the State of Uttarakhand.”

In the present case, we are primarily concerned with the interpretation of Section 2(ii) and (iii) read with explanation to the section.

Bench observed that ‘Camping Activity’ is an activity which has impacts on environment and ecology and bio-diversity of the river. There are allegations and even records to suggest that number of camping areas have been found to be offending the conditions imposed by the State Government. Cases of breach had been registered against them and in a case even fire-arms were found to be in possession of the visitors coming to these camps.

Further, there are permanent, semi-permanent and temporary structures raised and large scale tenting is done in the river bed. This activity from its nature, substance and actualities extending on the site clearly show that it is a non-forest activity for a non-forest purpose. 

Once it is held that the activity of camping on the forest land or any portion thereof is a non-forest activity and for a non-forest purpose, the provisions of Section 2(ii) of the Conservation Act would be applicable and it would be expected of the State Government to issue permission/order in terms thereof only upon taking approval of the Central Government.

Hence the contention that the said activity is not a non-forest activity could not be accepted.

Whether setting up of rafting camps along the beach of river Ganga and its tributaries qualifies as breaking up of the forest as comprehended under Section 2(ii) of the Conservation Act or not?

The term ‘breaking up’ has to be understood with the object of the Conservation Act in mind.

The instant case cannot be compared to the case of S Jayachandran, Joint Secretary, T.N Greens Movement (supra) rather if the activity of camping is carried on for ten months every year it has certain degree of permanency as understood and digging of the area is carried on. Thus, even according to that judgment, it would be breaking up of the forest area.

Furthermore, this is an act being carried on by the private respondents with the permission of the State and is certainly not an act/purpose of reforestation. Thus, we are unable to accept this contention of the respondent.

Hence for the issues mentioned above, tribunal held that the cases of camping activities in the reserved forest areas are activities which are for non-forest purpose or are non-forest activity in the forest area. These cases would attract the provisions of Section 2(ii) and (iii) of the Conservation Act.

It is obligatory upon the State of Uttarakhand to seek approval at least as a matter of scheme from MoEF and then issue orders/permits in terms of Section 2 of the Forest Conservation Act.


  • Whether it was permissible for the State of Uttarakhand to cover regulation of forests under the Rules of 2014 which were formed under clause (a) and (b) Section 8(2) of Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board Act, 2001 when the field was already covered under the Central legislation, i.e., the Conservation Act?
  • Whether eco-tourism in the forest area would squarely fall within the ambit and scope of the provisions of the Conservation Act and the letter dated 28-08-1998 issued by MoEF is liable to be quashed?

Ecotourism is about uniting conservation communities and sustainable travel. It is defined as responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the welfare of the local people.

Examples of negative environmental impacts of tourism to the protected natural areas have been listed as: overcrowding, environmental stress, trail erosion, deterioration of vegetation, noise pollution, contamination of air, water and land, forest fires, wildlife mortality, health hazard, habitat destruction, deforestation, erosion, ecological changes, behavioral changes of animals, groundwater pollution, scarring of landscape, etc.

The provision which empowers the State Government under the Act of 2001 to grant permission for camping activity in the forest area which is a non-forest activity would be ultra vires the provisions of the Conservation Act.

Tribunal in view of the above stated issues held that the MoEF letter dated 28-08-1998 is liable to be quashed the provisions or rules which deal with the implementation and proposal to grant permits for carrying on of camping activity in the forest area are concerned, they are in conflict with the provision of Section 2 of the Conservation Act and hence are ultra virus and cannot be implemented. It is obligatory upon the State of Uttarakhand at best as a matter of policy to seek prior approval of the Central Government before issuance of any permit for said camping activity.


What is the relevancy for determining the conduct of the State Government, private parties and the incidents of violation reported before the Tribunal?

Rapid Impact Assessment Report was not found worthy of acceptance by the State of Uttarakhand according to the Inter- Departmental Meeting of the State of Uttarakhand. The said meeting was held as a one day affair in which the team had gone in the river through the motor boat which was not permissible and they had no fair opportunity to examine the sites and offer fair comments. The said contention was not accepted by the tribunal.

The above-stated were verifiable facts and whether the State Government wanted to accept the report or not was a matter, exclusively in the domain of the State Government. But to treat it as an irrelevant document was certainly a mistake, the State Government ought to have considered the report objectively and taken its decision while granting permissions so as to ensure that there was no degradation of environment, biodiversity, ecosystem and particularly the forest area.

Hence, it was observed that the conduct of the State and the private parties are of relevancy in determining the main issue. The Rapid Assessment Report would provide an insight into the working of these camp sites. Undisputedly, there are violations committed by the management as well as the guests at the camp sites.


  • Whether camping site is a pure commercial activity and cannot be permitted in the forest land or on the banks of river Ganga, keeping its impact on environment in mind and should be barred?
  • If question no. 6 is answered in the negative, what should be the regulatory regime governing carrying on of such rafting and camping activities?

It is clear that this eco-tourism activity is completely a commercial activity intended to provide financial benefit to the State and provide employment to the people of the area.

It is true that rafting does not have any adverse impacts on the environment, ecology and river per se but carrying on of camping activity in the forest area does have substantial impacts.

Bench observed that despite the fact that eco-tourism is a commercial activity still it could be permitted, but subject to a strict regulatory regime and its enforcement without default.

Responsibility lies upon the State to protect its environment, forest and rivers.

Camping activity does cause contamination of river and ground water particularly when the activity is not carried on strictly in terms of the regulatory regime in force.

Further it was stated that the camping activity cannot be permitted as a primary activity as it has been there for continued period of 5 years. It is a matter of common knowledge that a person who wish to make investment for a period of 5 years would be having some reluctance not to raise structure of atleast some permanence to give greater comfort, convenience and service to its visitors, though at the cost of adverse impacts upon environment, ecology, river and wildlife.

Thus, it is absolutely essential that a proper stringent Regulatory Regime is placed on record so that such activity can be permitted to continue longer.

Tribunal also noted that the Ganga river from Gaumukh to Rishikesh which few years back was a river of pristine and without any pollution today, because of various factors, of which camping is one, has altered water quality, therefore it is absolutely necessary that a High Powered Committee is constituted.

There has to be very serious supervision with physical inspections at regular intervals by team of high officers of the Forest Department of Uttarakhand and Uttarakhand Environment Protection and Pollution Control Board.

there would be no camping or camping site in the mid of the river or river bed and anywhere within the area which is less than 100 meters measured from the middle of the river upto 2 km beyond boundary of the Rishikesh upstream and not less than 200 meters measured from middle of the river there onwards till boundary of Haridwar downstream.

The concept of ‘Back to Nature’ ought not to be used for developing revenue at the cost of Environment and Ecology.


Tribunal passed the following directions in view of the above discussion:

  • No camping activity shall be carried out in the entire belt of Kaudiyala to Rishikesh and the Government would abide by its statement made before the Tribunal on 31st March, 2015. Rafting activity is permitted to be carried with immediate effect.
  • A committee of officers is constituted not below te rand of a Joint Secretary from the Ministry of Environment and Forests and along with a specialist in this from the Ministry.
  • The Rapid Impact Assessment Report shall be treated as a relevant document and the Committee would conduct or get conducted a further survey to satisfy itself.
  • Committee shall consider all aspects of Environment, Wildlife, River and Biodiversity while preparing the relevant regulatory regime.
  • Committee shall give recommendation for all preventive and curative measures and steps that should be taken for ensuring least disturbance to wildlife and least impact on the environment and ecology.
  • After preparation of this report which should be prepared within 3 weeks from the pronouncement of this Judgement, the State of Uttarakhand through Secretary, Forests would submit a Comprehensive Management Plan cum proposal for approval to MoEF. MoEF would consider the same in accordance with law and accord its approval in terms of Section 2 of the Forest Conservation Act.
  • Committee shall ensure that it not only identifies the sites which can be appropriately used for camping activity but also the manner and methodology in which such sites should be put to use for carrying on of these activities.
  • After grant of approval, the State of Uttarakhand shall issue an order under Section 2 of the Forest Conservation Act and give permits in terms of its policy.
  • In terms of revenue and technical aspects, the State is free to take its decisions.
  • Tribunal further directs that if the Committee is of the opinion that rafting stations and number of rafting shafts to be permitted should be more than camp sites, it may so recommend but then, those rafting stations shall be used for very limited purposes of picking up and dropping the visitors without any other infrastructure.
  • local persons should be provided with maximum chances of employment or other financial gains resulting from this Eco-Tourism.
  • Complete prohibition on use of any plastic in the entire belt covered under the present judgement.
  • It shall be obligatory upon every person to whom permit/license for camping is granted by the State to collect the Municipal Solid Waste or all other wastes from the camping site at its own cost and ensure their transport to the identified sites for dumping.
  • No structure of any kind would be permitted to be raised, temporary, semi-permanent or permanent. We make it clear that making of the cemented platforms or bricked walls would not be permitted within the limits aforestated.
  • Committee also has to make this Report in relation to source, quantum of Water and source of Power needed keeping in view the camping activity.

[Social Action for Forest and Environment (Safe) v. Union of India,  2015 SCC OnLine NGT 843, decided on 10-12-2015]

Telangana High Court
Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Telangana High Court: The Division Bench of Raghavendra Singh Chauhan, CJ and Vijaysen Reddy, J., while banning the use of firecrackers stated that,

“Much as the festivals may be important and may serve social purpose, nonetheless, the lives of the people are the most important.”

The instant petition was filed to seek an order in the nature of Mandamus duly declaring the action of the respondents in not enforcing the ban of sale and use of crackers during November 10 to 30 for Diwali Festival across the State of Telangana as been done in other States in light of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Petitioner sought the relief that the Government should be directed to ban the sale and use of firecrackers by the people during Diwali festival.

It was further added that, according to the medical literature, the Corona Virus adversely affects the lungs of the patients, besides adversely affecting the other organ system of the body. Due to the lungs infection, patients have been facing extremely difficult to breathe normally and to survive.

Since the winter season is setting in, the pollution created by the fireworks tends to hang in the air, thereby jeopardizing the lives of many and, especially, of the patients who are suffering from Corona Virus.

Advocate General, B.S. Prasad submitted that so far the Government has not taken any policy decision for banning the use of firecrackers during the Diwali festival. Government merely hopes that people will continue to observe the safety precautions for COVID-19.


Bench stated that presently, the Nation and the State are struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 adversely affects the respiratory system. Moreover, the use of fireworks adversely affects air quality.

Considering the above-stated two factors, the State of Rajasthan has already banned the use of fireworks during the Diwali season. Moreover, even other High Courts have banned the use of fireworks in their respective States.

Court while directing the State to immediately ban the sale and use of fireworks by the people and organizations, observed that

“It is the bounden duty of the State to ensure that the lives of the people are protected and promoted in a meaningful way. Since the Government has not declared any ban on the use of fireworks so far, but considering the fact that the lives of the people need to be protected, considering the fact that uncontrolled and untrammelled use of fireworks may jeopardize the lives of many.”

Bench also directed the State to immediately clampdown and close the shops which are selling fireworks, State is also directed to issue an appeal to people, both through print, press and electronic media to refrain from bursting firecrackers in order to prevent the deterioration in the air quality.

Matter to be listed on 19-11-2020.[P. Indra Prakash v. State of Telangana, 2020 SCC OnLine TS 1528, decided on 12-11-2020]

Air Quality
Hot Off The PressNews

The members of Commission for Air Quality Management(CAQM)in National Capital Region and adjoining Areas met and reviewed the air quality scenario in the region, actions taken by various agencies so far and further steps to be taken for improving the air quality.

The Commission noted that future action will necessitate consultation with various stakeholders. However, at this stage, the Commission stressed the need to strictly enforce existing laws, rules, guidelines, directions and standard operating procedures to minimize air pollution on an emergency basis.

The Commission also felt that active public involvement is critical in the abatement of air pollution and identified the following major immediate measures:

1.       Minimize use of personalized transport to the extent possible

2.       Restrict travel unless absolutely essential

3.       Encourage work from home

4.       Strict enforcement of laws and rules regarding dust control measures including at construction sites

5.       Strict enforcement to prevent burning of municipal solid waste and biomass

6.       Intensify water sprinkling particularly in dust prone areas

7.       Use of anti-smog guns at pollution hotspots specially at construction sites

8.       Strict implementation of extant rules, Courts and Tribunal orders regarding stubble burning and use of firecrackers

9.       Seek co-operation from civil society and public-spirited citizens to report air pollution incidents on the Sameer App

10.     Encourage coal using industries in NCR to minimize the use of coal in the coming months.

Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change

[Press Release dt. 09-11-2020]

[Source: PIB]

Case BriefsCOVID 19Tribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

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 (Expert Members), issue notice to consider whether the use of firecrackers may be banned for the period from 07-11-2020 to 30-11-2020 in the interest of public health and environment.

Issue raised in the present application is in regard to the remedial action against pollution by the use of firecrackers against pollution by use of firecrackers in NCR during the time air quality is unsatisfactory with potential of severity of COVID-19 pandemic.

Present application has been filed in reference to the statement by Delhi’s Health Minister and Union Health Minister that during the festive season there will be rise on COVID cases due to air pollution. Further, it was added that the use of ‘green crackers’ won’t be a remedial option in view of the present situation.

“The smoke will choke and may create gas chamber like situation. It will lead to poor visibility, hazy conditions and asphyxia.”

Supreme Court had considered the issue in regard to firecrackers in light of right to clean environment in the.

In Arjun Gopal v. Union of India(2017) 1 SCC 412it was noted that air quality standards in Delhi are from ‘poor’ to ‘severe’ during winter resulting in the potential of diseases. Directions that were issued in the said decision were:

  1. Suspend all such licenses as permit sale of fireworks, wholesale and retail, within the territory of NCR.
  2. The suspension shall remain in force till further orders of this Court.
  3. No such licenses shall be granted or renewed till further orders.

Arjun Gopal v. Union of India, (2017) 16 SCC 280, It was noted that, the health of the people has to take precedence over any commercial or other interests, graded regulation of firecrackers was necessary which would eventually result in prohibition. Accordingly, directions were issued to restrict the temporary licenses to 50%, pending further consideration.

Supreme Court in Arjun Gopal v. Union of India, (2019) 13 SCC 523, while banning certain categories of firecrackers and directing regulation of the remaining, directed that on Diwali days or other festivals, firecrackers will be used strictly between 8 p. to 10 pm only with different timings for some other festivals.

In Supreme Court’s decision of Noise Pollution (V), In Re., (2005) 5 SCC 733, directions were issued with regard to the noise level of the crackers.

It has been stated in the present application that the above-cited Supreme Court decisions do not address the COVID-19 situation wherein the adverse effect may be so that the number of deaths may increase along with the number of diseases.

It has been added that several reports in public domain state that the air quality of Delhi is deteriorating and further deterioration may give rise to an increase in COVID cases.

Since the firecrackers emit poisonous gases like SO2, NOX, CO as well as the metal besides creating noise. In the given climatic conditions, this may result in respiratory/pulmonary diseases, diabetic, hypertension and other diseases.

Experts have also opined on clear nexus of air pollution with COVID-19. With increased air pollution, virus can cause more damage.

On noting the above stated, Tribunal issued notice to the MoEF&CC, CPCB, DPCC, Police Commissioner, Delhi, Governments of Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan on the question whether the use of firecrackers may be banned for the period from 07-11-2020 to 30-11-2020 in the interest of public health and environment.

Bench requested Raj Panjwani, Senior Advocate along with Advocate Shibani Ghosh to assist the Tribunal as amicus.

Matter to be listed don 05-11-2020.[Indian Social Responsibility Network v. Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change;  2020 SCC OnLine NGT 858, decided on 02-11-2020]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the case where the National Green Tribunal directed the State of Madhya Pradesh to ensure that no dealer and/or outlet and/or petrol pump should supply fuel to vehicles without Pollution Under Control (PUC) Certificate, the bench of Arun Mishra and Indira Banerjee, JJ has held that NGT had no power to pass such direction as the stoppage of supply of fuel to vehicles not complying with the requirement to have and/or display a valid PUC Certificate is not contemplated either in the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 or in the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010.

“Motor Vehicles not complying with the requirement of possessing and/or displaying a valid PUC Certificate cannot be debarred from being supplied fuel.”

The Court said that when a Statute or a Statutory Rules prescribed a penalty for any act or omission, no other penalty not contemplated in the Statute or a Statutory Rules can be imposed. When a Statute requires a thing to be done in a particular manner, it is to be done only in that manner.

After going through the relevant provisions, the Court summarized that driving a vehicle without a pollution PUC certificate entails:

  • suspension of registration certificate;
  • imprisonment which may extend to three months;
  • fine which may extend to Rs.10,000/- or both
  • disqualification for holding licence for a period of three months
  • imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or with fine which may extend to Rs.10,000/- or with fine.

It further noticed that as per Rule 116(8) and (9), the suspension of the certificate of registration is temporary. The suspension is until such time as a certificate is produced before the Registering Authority certifying that the vehicle complies with sub Rules (2) and (7) of the Rule 115 of the Central rules. A Certificate of Registration is also to be deemed to have been suspended, until a fresh Pollution Under Control certificate is obtained.

“There can be no doubt that strong measures must be taken to protect the environment and improve the air quality whenever there is contravention of statutory rules causing environmental pollution. Stringent action has to be taken, but in accordance with law.”

The Court, hence, noticed that in passing blanket direction, directing the appellant State Government to ensure that no dealer and/or outlet and/or petrol pump should supply fuel to vehicles without PUC Certificate, de hors the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, NGT overlooked the fact that no vehicle can either be repaired to comply with pollution norms, nor tested for compliance with the political norms upon repair, without fuel.

Hence, the NGT had no power and/or authority and/or jurisdiction to pass orders directing the Appellant State Government to issue orders, instructions or directions on dealers, outlets and petrol pumps not to supply fuel to vehicles without PUC Certificate.

The Court, however, directed that the State shall strictly implement compliance of Rules 115 and 116 and penalize all those who contravene the said Rules in accordance with the provisions of the 1989 Rules.

“The Registration Certificate of vehicles which do not possess a valid PUC Certificate shall be forthwith suspended and/or cancelled, and penal measures initiated against the owner and/or the person(s) in possession and/or control of the offending vehicle, in accordance with law.”

[State of Madhya Pradesh v. Centre for Environment Protection Research and Development, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 687, decided on 28.08.2020]

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: The bench Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta, JJ has allowed construction activity in the Delhi-NCR region between 6 am and 6 pm, partially lifting its complete ban on it.  The said order of the Court came after Additional Solicitor General A N S Nadkarni informed it that the Centre has constituted a high-level committee following the apex court’s direction to examine the feasibility of using technology like smog towers to combat air pollution.

The bench also directed the governments of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana to furnish before it the updated report on stubble burning up to December 11.

The court had on November 25 directed the Centre to constitute a high-level committee within three days to consider and work out modalities regarding other technologies to help combat pollution, and said that a report be filed before it within three weeks on this issue. The various direction that the Court had earlier issued are as follows:

  • It had asked the Delhi government to apprise it of the steps taken with regard to anti-smog gun which sprays atomized water 50 metres in the air to bring down pollutants and had said CPCB should be associated on the issue of anti-smog guns.
  • The court had asked all the states to explain within six weeks as to why they should not be made liable to pay compensation to persons affected by bad air quality saying it is their bounden duty to provide basic civic amenities, clean air and drinking water to citizens.
  • The court had asked the Centre and the Delhi government to sit together and take decision within 10 days with regard to installation of smog towers in Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR) which would help in combating air pollution.

The Court had said that “the right to life of human is being endangered” by the bad air quality and water pollution and the states have to deal with the situation as “life span is being shortened”. The Court also took exception that states and Centre were indulging in “blame game” over crucial issue of air and water pollution and asked them to work in tandem for welfare of the people. It said despite various orders being passed by the top court from time to time in the pollution matter, the situation has worsened over the years and authorities have to be blamed as they have not performed their duties.

Terming the situation of stubble burning in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh as “alarming”, the Court noticed that despite its order prohibiting it, burning of crop residues in these states have increased. It, hence, pulled up the chief secretaries of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh for their failure to prevent instance of stubble burning despite the Court’s order. It said,

“Only policy making to deal with pollution is not required, the real issue needed was implementation at the ground level.”

The bench is due to take up the pollution related matters on December 16.

(Source: PTI)

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Union Cabinet Secretary today reviewed the progress made in the arrangements, since Sunday, to control Air Pollution in the National Capital Region.

It was observed that the cases of crop stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana still continue to continue and that there is a need for more focussed action.

These States have now been directed that more monitoring teams should be deployed on the field to ensure that the violators are taken to task by imposing suitable penalties.

The situation in the capital where different agencies are coordinating was also discussed and it was felt that there was a need for enhanced efforts to control the situation.

The states have also been directed to ensure that they are fully prepared for meeting any exigency in the future.

Prime Minister’s Office

[Press Release dt. 05-11-2019]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Green Tribunal (NGT): The Bench comprising of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel (Chairperson) and Justice Raghuvendra S. Rathore, Justice S.P. Wangdi, Justice K. Ramakrishnan (Judicial Members); Dr Satyawan Sigh Garbyal, Dr Nagin Nanda and Saibal Dasgupta (Expert Members), took cognizance of air quality in Delhi.

Tribunal noted the report in some of the newspaper’s:

‘The Hindu’, the matter is reported under the heading ‘Delhi Chokes as air pollution levels hit a three-year high’.

‘Indian Express’, It is reported under the heading ‘Capital air crosses severe level, PMO steps in, Centre to monitor.

‘Times of India’, It is reported under the heading ‘Atmosfear: Delhi Victim of Sick Choke, Capital a Gas Chamber After Light Drizzle.

In the Hindustan Times, the heading is ‘Capital Punishment- Bhopal Gas tragedy occurred once and it has been dealt with, but this gas tragedy is occurringevery year and is not properly dealt with.

Further, Tribunal stated that, to provide efefctive access to judicial remedies for enforcement of right to healthy environment which is part of Right to Life under Article 21.

Supreme Court has issued directions in various matters. This Tribunal has also dealt with the issue in several cases including the matter dealing with 122 ‘non-attainment cities’ in the Country where the air quality is beyond prescribed norms and on the subject preventing ‘crop residue burning.

“Air pollution is source of diseases and threat to life.”

Tribunal adding to the above, stated that the present situation of severe air pollution “is not creation of one day. It is continuous negligence and apathy of statutory authorities in enforcing the law. While remedial action may continue to be taken in the best possible manner, there is urgent need to have proper planning to address the gaps in existing enforcement strategies and existing undesirable situation.”

The Bench further held that after interaction with the Chairman and Member Secretary of CPCB who have presented detailed analysis of the situation, tribunal found it necessary to further examine the matter after looking into the status of implementation of GRAP and other measures including preventive strategies currently adopted. [Air Quality Deterioration In And Around Delhi as reported in Print and Electronic Media, In Re, O.A No. 1008 of 2019, decided on 04-11-2019]

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: Holding the State Governments responsible for the current situation of air pollution prevailing in Delhi-NCR, the Court has said,

“People are dying…more people will die but those at the helm seem interested only in gimmicks. We will supervise this matter now. Crop stubble burning must stop immediately and all states must do everything to stop it,”

The remarks by the apex court came during the hearing of Air pollution case. The matter was being heard by the bench of Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta, JJ. Additional Solicitor-General ANS Nadkarni appeared for the Centre.

Asking the government to call some environment expert from IIT Delhi and from ministry to suggest immediate measures to be taken to deal with pollution crisis, the bench said,

“State governments are responsible. All of them… they are interested only in electioneering. State governments are making a mockery of everything. We are going to hold them responsible now..from top to the bottom. … It is torture, and all officials, to the level of gram pradhans, should be held accountable. We must do something now.”

The Court further further remarked that people are not safe inside their own houses and it was unacceptable in a civilised country and asked what measures were being taken up by the government.

“Even in a bedroom in Lutyen’s Delhi, it (Air Quality Index) is more than 500. Air purifier can’t work. Can we survive in this fashion,”

Describing the situation as ‘grim’, the Court also asked the Centre and Delhi government to inform them what they intend to do reduce the pollution. Speaking on the situation in the national capital, the court stated the situation was being repeated every year and it is not tolerable. It said,

“Things are happening every year under our nose. People are being advised to not come to Delhi or leave Delhi. The state government is responsible. People are dying in their state and neighbouring states. We will not tolerate this. We are making a mockery of everything…”

(Source: ANI)

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Green Tribunal (NGT): The Coram comprising of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel (Chairperson) and Justice S.P. Wangdi (Judicial Member), Justice K. Ramakrishnan (Judicial Member) and Dr Nagin Nanda (Expert Member) addressed an application in respect to the air pollution being caused in NCR Region due to the burning of crops in and around Delhi.

The present application constitutes and portrays the fact that, 25-30% of air pollution in NCR is caused by burning crop residue in and around Delhi in October and November every year. Burning of the crop residue is perceived to be helpful in preparing the field for sowing the next crop. This results in an adverse impact on air quality.

In spite of the efforts being taken by the Central and State Governments, burning of the crop is still continuing with all its adverse consequences on public health and environment for which no officer/authority is being held accountable.

Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 provides for prohibiting burning of any material which is likely to cause air pollution burning of any material which is likely to cause air pollution and enforcing such prohibition in an appropriate manner including prosecution and recovery of compensation.

It is to be noted that a pollution-free environment is right of every citizen and obligation of every State.

The stand of the Central Government and States that they are helpless is unacceptable. Just like enforcing the law to prevent other crimes, the State has to own responsibility to enforce law to prevent pollution. Tribunal observed that,

“It is unfortunate that the State have failed to perform its duty and have merely pleaded helplessness on the ground that whatever action was possible have been taken.”

In 5 years the State machinery has not been able to communicate the farmers concerned about the techniques of sowing crops without burning of the crop residue of the paddy, this is an unhappy situation which demands remedial actions. States need to come out with enforcement or other strategies, including further incentives.

Tribunal further stated that the steps taken are inadequate and do not provide for ground checking and vigilance and extinguishing of illegal fires. Preventive remedies of communicating with the farmers the disadvantages of burning are also unsatisfactory and ineffective.

Thus, Tribunal asked the Central and State Governments to take effective steps in communicating with the farmers along with that they may place the data in regard to the fie incidents, responsible officers for the subject for the entire areas and action taken for the failure on their respective web sites.

Action plans and enforcement strategies are reviewed. The matter has been listed on 15-11-2019. [Ganga Lalwani v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine NGT 327, decided on 15-10-2019]

Hot Off The PressNews

Green logo and QR coding system also launched to track the manufacture & sale of counterfeit crackers

In a bid to resolve the crisis of air pollution, the Government launched green firecrackers. Union Minister for Science & Technology, Earth Sciences and Health and Family Welfare, Dr. Harsh Vardhan announced in a Press Conference in New Delhi, that Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) labs have been successful in developing various environment-friendly fireworks such as sound-emitting crackers, flowerpots, pencils, chakkar, and sparklers. He further pointed out that these fireworks, based on new formulations developed by CSIR, have been manufactured and are available in the Indian market for consumers and sellers.

He further informed that due to the ban that had been imposed as per the orders of Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, there was a threat of imminent closure of the entire fireworks industry. However, Science has once again come to the rescue of the common man and millions of jobs have been saved due to the interventions made by our scientists.

Dr Harsh Vardhan said, “I am very happy that on one hand, we would be using eco-friendly crackers this Deepawali, and, on the other hand, our traditional festival celebrations with lights and firecrackers shall remain intact. Millions of homes which are dependent on the sale and manufacture of fireworks will also rejoice this festival, thanks to our scientists!”

Ministry of Science & Technology

[Press Release dt. 05-10-2019]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Green Tribunal (NGT): The Bench comprising of S.P. Wangdi (JM), K. Ramakrishnan (JM) and Dr Nagin Nanda (EM) imposed Rs 5 Crores as interim environmental compensation on State of West Bengal following the ‘Polluter Pays Principle’ due to the adverse air quality.

The present order was followed to be read out due to the alarming adverse air quality of the Kolkata city. Principal reason for bad ambient and air quality was identified to be auto emission apart from road dust, construction activities, burning of municipal waste and industrial wastes including plastics, population of DG sets and industrial emissions. For the stated issue, State had failed to take any effective measures.

NGT was compelled to pass the present order, as specific directions had been issued for phasing out vehicles which were more than 15 years old, further it was also observed by the Tribunal that the judgment passed by the Tribunal for the issue of air pollution was far from being complied. NGT had also directed the State respondents to introduce some mechanism in order to check the emissions of moving overloaded vehicles. All commercial transport vehicles were asked to be converted to CNG.

In spite of more than 7 months having being elapsed, no tangible action was taken by the State and placed before the Tribunal and State Pollution Control Board had remained blissfully silent. Reliance was placed on M.C. Mehta v. Union of India, (2004) 12 SCC 118, in which it was stated that “If the regulatory authorities either connive or act negligently by not taking prompt action to prevent, avoid or control damage to environment, natural resources, people’s health and property, the principle of accountability for restoration and compensation have to be applied.”

Thus, State of West Bengal was directed to pay compensation of Rs 5 Crores and on delay, Rs 1 Crore per month by following the ‘Polluter Pays Principle’ in terms of Section 20 of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010. The matter is further listed for 08-01-2019. [Subhas Datta v. State of West Bengal,2018 SCC OnLine NGT 345, Order dated 27-11-2018]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Green Tribunal (NGT): The Bench comprising of A.K Goel, Chairperson; S.P. Wangdi, Judicial Member; and Nagin Nanda, Executive Member, addressed the alarming and menacing situation of air pollution and crop burning being the major contributory factor to it.

In the present application, it was noted that the major issue to be considered by the bench is relating to crop burning primarily in the States of Punjab, Haryana and to some extent in the States of Uttar Pradesh and the NCT of Delhi, leading to deterioration of air quality. Further, in the application, it was mentioned that there is a scheme in place called “National Policy for Management of Crop Residue-2014”, for assistance to farmers for burning of the crop through machinery and equipments. Niti Ayog also organised programmes on the same subject for the farmers. After all the mentioned measures and steps, the problem still persists.

In an earlier order of the Tribunal, it was noted that 15,000 pre-mature deaths took place in Delhi in the year 2016 due to smog, to which crop burning was a contributing factor.

On considering the earlier orders of the Tribunal along with the articles that concern with air pollution levels, etc. by newspapers such as Times of India, Indian Express, the NGT noted that the problem as mentioned above remains at standstill and unresolved, to which a suggestion was made to be considered that, “those who help the environment by not burning the crop deserve incentive”. It was also made clear that existing Minimum Support Price (MSP) Scheme must be so interpreted so as to enable the States concerned to wholly or partly deny the benefit of MSP on burning crop residue. The said scheme is to be worked out preferably by 14-11-2018.

While concluding its order, the Tribunal also directed the Secretary (Agriculture), Government of India and Chief Secretaries of States of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and NCT of Delhi to find a long-lasting solution to the problem of crop burning after doing a strategic planning. The matter is to be further considered on 15-11-2018. [Ganga Lalwani v. Union of India,2018 SCC OnLine NGT 339, Order dated 12-11-2018]