Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Green Tribunal (NGT): While coming down heavily upon Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA) for causing environment degradation due to widening of Mithi River, NGT imposed an environmental compensation of Rs 25 lakh upon the Authority. Said directions were issued by the Tribunal during the hearing of an appeal filed by a social organization Jalbiradari and an NGO Vanashakti, challenging the grant of CRZ Clearance for construction of retaining wall, service road along with the banks of the river Mithi, Mumbai by MMRDA. It was alleged in the appeal that nearly 90 per cent of the project had already been completed particularly in relation to the construction of retaining wall on the flood plain of river Mithi River which is primarily intended to protect the flooding of the adjacent areas. It was further alleged in the appeal that the blasting work carried out in river was in violation to the relevant laws in force.  After perusal of relevant documents and hearing the parties, NGT observed, “The project proponent, MMRDA has started the project without compliance to the relevant provisions of law. It caused environmental degradation and even the blasting work was carried in violation to the relevant laws in force. Consequently, the said respondent is liable to pay Environmental Compensation. At this initial stage, it is directed that the project proponent shall pay Rs. 25 lakhs as Environmental Compensation, which will be subject to final adjustment upon submissions of the report by the expert body including the money required for taking restorative and remedial measures.” NGT also directed State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) to nominate a member of National Environmental Engineering Research Institute as a member of the SEIAA, to examine the entire matter and submit its report to the Tribunal. SEIAA was further directed to consider the project as it exists and to give the amount to be imposed on the MMRDA for its defaults, violations and for damaging the environment, ecology and biodiversity of Mithi river and its surroundings. “The SEIAA shall ensure that the creek of river Mithi at the discharge point is duly protected. Because of the construction or any other reason the flow of river Mithi should not be adversely affected,” Tribunal added in its order. [Jalbiradari v. Ministry of Environment & Forests, 2016 SCC OnLine NGT 188, decided on May 31, 2016]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Green Tribunal: While imposing an environmental compensation of one crore on a distillery in Meerut district of Uttar Pradesh for generating substantial quantity of effluent and discharging it into a drain which meets river Kali, NGT ordered that the industry can only be permitted to operate on installation of Multi Effect Evaporator (MEE). The said compensation was directed to be paid to the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board which shall be used only for the improvement of the environment of the area in question. The Tribunal was hearing an application filed by an environmentalist alleging that the distillery unit was generating substantial quantity of effluent and discharging it into a drain which meets river Kali. The sugar cane molasses based distilleries are among the most polluting industries. Their effluent requires several stages of treatment and dilution before safe disposal. Discharge of distillery effluent into surface water leads to depletion of oxygen and water becomes colored. The Daurala-based distillery unit was found to have polluted land and water for many years by releasing untreated effluent and using the same for ferti-irrigation too. After perusing the material on record, NGT observed, “The materials undoubtedly establish that the industry was earlier discharging the effluent generated into the drain, which ultimately reached river Kali and was thus seriously polluting the land and the river….. It is also clear that the industry was operating in violation of the conditions of consent as it was polluting the land and the environment by discharging the untreated effluent on the land and by using if for ferti-irrigation. Using the untreated effluent of the distillery unit is definitely harmful to the land.” While further observing that, “There is no doubt that the industry is a seriously polluting industry. As it is proved that the industry was causing serious pollution for all these years, it is absolutely necessary to impose an environmental compensation on the industry,” NGT imposed environmental compensation of one crore upon the distillery. The Tribunal also noted that as total installation production capacity of the unit is 150 KLD and consent was granted only for production of 80 KLD, industry must be permitted to operate only on installation of Multi Effect Evaporator (MEE) and restrict the production capacity of the industry to 38 KLD till the installation and commissioning of MEE. (Krishan Kant Singh v. Daurala Sugar Works Distillery Unit Daurala, 2015 SCC OnLine NGT 468, decided on November 9, 2015)