Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Green Tribunal (NGT): Full Bench of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel (Chairperson) and Justice Sheo Kumar Singh (Judicial Member) and Dr Nagin Nanda (Expert Member) expressed that:

Conduct of functions must not disturb other citizens right to peaceful and clean environment.

The instant Order was pursuant to the subject of compliance of environmental norms by restaurants/hotels/motels/banquets, etc. in terms of earlier orders of Tribunals.

Vide the Order dated 02-11-2018, Tribunal considered grievance against the violation of environmental norms, including solid waste management, discharge of effluents, illegal ground water extraction, ground water contamination, emission by illegally operating diesel generators, absence of statutory consents under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 (‘Water Act’), the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 (‘Air Act’) and violation of conditions of consents where such consents are granted, by the restaurants/hotels /motels/banquets in Mahipalpur, Rajokri areas in Delhi. The Tribunal also considered the issue of absence of rainwater harvesting, ground water recharge system, excess noise pollution, illegal parking and encroachments.

Tribunal found violations and directed remedial action.

Mechanism/Guidelines for Control of Pollution and Enforcement of Environment Norms at Individual Establishments and the Area/ Cluster of Restaurants/ Hotels/ Motels/ Banquets etc.:

  1. a)  Individual units to provide necessary facilities for control of air, water & noise pollution, solid waste management, etc as enumerated in the previous sections.
  2. b)  Individual units to take necessary approvals from the concerned authorities as listed below:
  •  Consent to Establish under Air/Water Act
  •  Consent to operate under Air/Water Act
  •  Permission for concerned Authorities in accordance with provisions of Noise Rules
  •  Permission for Ground Water Extraction from concerned Authorities , if required
  •  Building Plan Approval from concerned Authorities
  •  Fire Safety Certificate/NoC from concerned Authorities
  1. c) Local Authorities to ensure provision of adequate common facilities for water pollution, solid waste management, parking etc
  2. d) The State Board to have robust monitoring mechanism to evaluate compliance with norms of such units atleast twice a year. As per NGT Directions, SPCBs/PCCs are required to submit compliance report to CPCB

Bench stated that the recommendations in the report of the CPCB need to be duly implemented by all the States/UTs by adopting the guidelines for control of pollution in marriage halls, banquet halls, party venues etc. along with consent management system, as already directed.

Further, the Tribunal added that ETPs needs to be installed by all the big units, not connected to the sewer lines, apart from ensuring compliance of rainwater harvesting systems, adequate safeguards in operating the kitchen need to be adopted, composting facilities, control of noise levels and providing parking space.

In case the above is not followed, no consent shall be given or renewal even in respect of the establishments already setup.

Bench also expressed that the Consent conditions must require the owner/manager of establishment informing the organizer/user in writing in advance about the conditions applicable for ensuring compliance.

 In view of the above, application was disposed of. [Westend Green farms Society v. Union of India,  2021 SCC OnLine NGT 3, decided on 04-02-2021]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a case regarding increased ammonia levels in river Yamuna due to discharge of pollutants, the 3-judge bench of SA Bobde, CJ and AS Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian, JJ stated, “It has become necessary, to compare the costs of prevention and control of water pollution against its effects on human health including treatment, indirect economic costs and damage to flora and fauna.”

 Acknowledging that pollution of water supplies by sewage effluents had been and still is a major cause of variety of diseases and discomforts, the Court directed for the registration of suo moto writ petition (civil) with regard to the issue of contamination of rivers by sewage effluents and ensure that the mandate is implemented by municipalities as far as discharge of sewage into rivers was concerned. Since, the effect of water pollution on human health was not the only adverse factor; it could seriously harm the aquatic life in water bodies.

Remediation of polluted rivers

 After dwelling upon constitutional and legislative mandates, the Court expressed that Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 was enacted with an objective to provide for the prevention and control of water pollution and maintaining or restoring of wholesomeness of water. Reliance was placed by the Court on the case of Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti v. Union of India, (2017) 5 SCC, where the Court had emphasised over duties of municipalities regarding public health, sanitation conservancy and solid waste management, it was held, “Given the responsibility vested in municipalities under Article 243-W of the Constitution, as also, in Item 6 of Schedule XII, wherein the aforesaid obligation, pointedly extends to “public health, sanitation conservancy and solid waste management”, we are of the view that the onus to operate the existing common effluent treatment plants, rests on municipalities (and/or local bodies). Given the aforesaid responsibility, the municipalities (and/or local bodies) concerned, cannot be permitted to shy away from discharging this onerous duty. In case there are further financial constraints, the remedy lies in Articles 243-X and 243-Y of the Constitution.”

The Bench stated, “Mandate of law is clear as far as setting up of Sewage Treatment Plants and stoppage of sewage effluents in surface water are concerned, but it is often found that either the sewage is not treated through a plant before being discharged or the treatment plants are not functional or incapacitated.”

 Interim Order

Acknowledging the duties of State to improve the public health of citizens and protect the environment; the Court issued following directions:

  • A notice be issued to State of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.
  • Notice should also be issued to Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India and Central Board of Pollution Control (CPCB).
  • CPCB was directed to submit a report identifying municipalities along the river Yamuna, which had not installed total treatment plants for sewage as per the requirement or had gaps in ensuring that the sewage is not discharged untreated into the river. It was also directed to highlight any other source of prominent contamination within the limits of Municipalities.
  • CPCB was further directed to submit priority-wise list of Municipalities, river stretches adjacent to which had been found to be most polluted.
  • Senior Advocate, Meenakshi Arora, was appointed as amicus curiae to assist the Court in the Suo Moto petition.

The matter was listed for further hearing on 19-01-2021. [Delhi Jal Board v. State of Haryana, WP(C) No. 8 of 2021, decided on 13-01-2021]

Case BriefsTribunals/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 (Exper Members) directs closure of garbage processing plant by Pune Municipal Corporation and to shift the same at any other place in light of same being in violation of right of the inhabitants to a pollution-free environment.

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

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

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

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

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

 Decision

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Green Tribunal (NGT): Full Bench of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel (Chairperson) and Justice S.P. Wangdi (Judicial Member)and Dr Nagin Nanda (Expert Member) asked CPCB to consider an environmental audit of certain entities.

Present applications sought enforcement of ‘Extended Producer Responsibility’ under the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016.

The first petition sought enforcement of liability against Amazon and Flipkart using excessive plastic packaging material without meeting the statutory liability.

On earlier occasions, the matter was considered wherein it was observed that the statutory regulators were not taking coercive measures including invoking of “Polluter Pays Principle” for enforcing the statutory norms.

Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) was directed to look into the matter and file a further report.

CPCB in its report mentioned reasons of why the law was not enforced but does not mention the coercive measures adopted either directly by CPCB or in coordination with State PCBs/PCCs.

Further, the tribunal stated that CPCB can also consider ordering an environmental audit against the entities concerned and assess and recover compensation for violation of environmental norms.

Matter to be considered on 14-10-2020. [Aditya Dubey (Minor) v. Amazon Retail India (P) Ltd., 2020 SCC OnLine NGT 228, decided on 10-09-2020]

Hot Off The PressNews

Pollution Under Control Certificate at the time of renewal of motor insurance mandatory

Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India has advised all General Insurance Companies to comply with the directions issued by the Supreme Court of India in W.P. (Civil) 13029 of 1985, M.C. Mehta v. Union of India.

Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has raised concerns regarding the status of compliance of the above directions of the Supreme Court of India in the National Capital Region of Delhi (Delhi-NCR).

IRDAI asks General Insurance Companies to ensure that the above directions of the Supreme Court of India are scrupulously followed with a special focus on compliance in the National Capital Region of Delhi (Delhi–NCR).

Read the circular here: PUC Circular 20-08-2020


Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India

[Circular dt. 20-08-2020]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Green Tribunal (NGT): The Bench comprising of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel (Chairperson) and Justice S.P. Wangdi (Judicial Member) and Dr Nagin Nanda (Expert Member), while addressing an issue of remedial action against cheap waste paper and road sweep waste import for the firing of brick kilns, stated that,

CPCB needs to take further action for implementation of its recommendations on the issues of “plastic waste management” as well as “restriction on import of plastic waste”.

Applicant submitted that 900,000 tons of waste are imported which is hazardous.

Tribunal had vide its order dated 30-04-2019, considered the response of CPCB which had suggested the following:

  • Restriction on import of plastic waste and proper management of hazardous waste.
  • It also suggested that local bodies should use plastic waste for road construction and energy recovery.
  • Producers should follow “Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)”

To the above, Tribunal directed CPCB to take further action in regard to the implementation of its recommendations on the issues of plastic waste management as well as the restriction on import of plastic waste.

In accordance with the report issued by CPCB in respect to the direction of Tribunal, the report acknowledged that “there is no proper mechanism for plastic waste management which was being dumped in open or burnt in brick kilns resulting in pollution.” Tribunal noted that, CPCB only had issued directions and also stated that “MoEF&CC is to deal with the issue of transboundary movement (import/export) hazardous and other wastes.”

Thus, the Tribunal in the present order stated that, apart from the issuance of direction by CPCB, it has to see the compliance of the same as well. Even with regard to the illegal import, CPCB as a statutory regulator can take up the matter with the concerned authorities.

Hence a report was directed to be submitted after further steps have been taken in the matter. The matter is listed for 16-10-2019. [Amit Jain v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine NGT 278, decided on 06-09-2019]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

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

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

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

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