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National Green Tribunal | A bench comprising of Adarsh Kumar Goel (Chairperson), Sudhir Agarwal (Judicial Member), JJ., and A. Senthil Vel (Expert Member) took suo motu cognizance based on media report “Over 6,000 trees illegally cut for tiger safari project in Corbett Reserve, says FSI report” published on 02-10-2022 in the Hindu newspaper, and acknowledged the illegality in cutting the trees.

The Tribunal observed that report submitted by Forest Survey of India (FSI) “Illegal felling of trees for the establishment of Pakhro Tiger Safari, Uttarakhand” dated 06-09-2022 clearly acknowledges the fact that cutting of trees is going on illegally, therefore accountability must be fixed, and environmental damage must be repaired by following due process of law.

The Tribunal constituted a three-member committee to identify violators as well as steps required for environmental restoration. The committee is comprised of DG, Forest Department, ADG, Wildlife Department and ADG, Project Tiger.

The Tribunal directed the committee to submit a report to the Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) within a month and suspended the project until the committee identifies the offenders, and the environmental damage is undone.

“Accordingly, we constitute a three-Member Committee comprising DG, Forest Department, ADG, Wildlife Department and ADG, Project Tiger to identify the violators and the steps required for restoration of environment. Its report with specific recommendations may be furnished to the Secretary, MoEF&CC within one month and steps for further course of action in the matter be finalised within next one month. Till then the Project may not be allowed to proceed.”

[In re: news item published in the Newspaper The Hindu dated 02.10.2022 titled “Over 6,000 trees illegally cut for tiger safari project in Corbett Reserve, says FSI report”, 2022 SCC OnLine NGT 235, order dated 21-10-2022]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Mr. Anoop Singh (Director General, Forest Survey of India), Dr. Samir Sinha (PCCF, Wildlife) and Mr. Abhishek Attrey, Counsel for the Respondent/State.

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

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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.

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National Green Tribunal | Taking suo motu cognizance to consider the impact of musical festival which was proposed to be held near the Tiger reserve at Ranthambhore, Rajasthan, a bench comprising of Adarsh Kumar Goel (Chairperson), Sudhir Agarwal (Judicial Member), JJ., and A. Senthil Vel (Expert Member) allowed the music festival to be held only if the authorities concerned permit it after considering its impact on wildlife and the ecosystem.

Canvas Talent (P) Ltd (‘Applicant’)., submitted that the Ranthambhore Festival is being organized to promote art and culture of the area since 2017 and the proposed venue is a hotel which is approximately 5 km from the tiger reserve with an audience size of 500-600.

The applicant submitted that the event will be held within the complex of the Hotel at amphitheatre and only fabric banners and recycled material are used. Moreover, the guests will use wireless headphones. The counsel for applicant also contended that it had taken all the permissions/approvals and it had put huge investments and efforts into organizing the event.

The applicant further submitted that they are willing to give an undertaking that there will be no music and light, except the use of headphones and many activities will be shifted indoors from the amphitheatre.

The Tribunal observed that photographs from the previous year’s clearly show the use of musical instruments, lighting, drums, and an attendance of at least 3,000 people and the contention that all approval were taken cannot be accepted as no such approval has been shown.

The Tribunal observed that it is difficult to accept that such an event will not have an adverse impact on wildlife as no evaluation was undertaken by any statutory regulator or by the applicant.

The Tribunal opined that as per government guidelines, an approval of a standing committee of the National Board of Wildlife (NBWL) is required for activities within 10 km from boundaries of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries and stated that

“It appears to be difficult to rule out the possibility of disturbing the wildlife and ecosystem by such large event close to the Tiger reserve. Informed decision in such a matter by statutory regulator is necessary in absence of any express permission when the event is within 10 km from the Tiger Reserve.”

The Tribunal held that Ranthambhore Musical Festival can be held near the tiger reserve subject to conditions laid down by a joint committee of National Wildlife Board, Government of India and Chief Wildlife Warden, Rajasthan and due consideration must be taken into account of the music festival’s impact on the wildlife and the ecosystem.

The Tribunal also directed the National Board for Wildlife to coordinate with other authorities concerned, including the National Tiger Conservation Authority and issued appropriate guidelines regarding such events in the vicinity of other national parks in the country within one month.

[In re: Ranthambhore Musical Festival, near the Forest/Sanctuary area, Original Application No. No.777/2022 (I.A No. 280/2022), decided on 07-11-2022]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Mr. Atmaram and N.S. Nadkarni (Senior Advocate), Dr. Harsh Pathak and Mr. Mohit Choubey, Counsel for Applicant/Canvas Talent (P) Ltd.

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

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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.

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National Green Tribunal | The bench comprising of Adarsh Kumar Goel (Chairperson), Sudhir Agarwal (Judicial Member), JJ., and A. Senthil Vel (Expert Member) took suo motu cognizance based on media report titled “7 Charred to death in fire near Ludhiana dumpsite” reporting the death of seven person, who belonged to a ragpicker family living near the landfill for the last ten years, in a fire at a garbage dump site at Tajpur road.

The Tribunal constituted a monitoring committee headed by Jasbir Singh J., to monitor compliance of certain orders of this Tribunal in Punjab and also, directed Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to issue a statutory order to prevent such fires and handle them effectively if it happens. The Tribunal also issued notice to the Chief Secretary, Punjab to throw light on the matter but he did not respond to the notice.

The monitoring committee submitted its report dated 15-05-2022. According to the report, the Municipal Corporation and other State Authorities failed to provide a clean environment and failed to comply with the SWM Rules not only at Ludhiana but in other places too. No steps were taken to dispose of 25-30 lakh tonnes legacy waste which is stored at 52 acres of land in Ludhiana. There is no segregation of mixed waste dumped at the site.

“The conditions in which rag pickers are living is pathetic who need to be rehabilitated. In any case, protective measures are required to be adopted to prevent danger to their lives and safety. Leachate water in large quantity is flowing from the site and children of rag pickers were seen playing with the leachate water which can “wet eyes of any on looker”.”

The report also mentioned that solid waste is illegally being buried into earth which could adversely affect the groundwater and soil fertility and wastewater as being discharged into river Sutlej. The report further dealt with facts leading to fire incident, probable reasons for catching the fire and cause of death, remedial action to save the lives of the persons residing near solid waste dumping site, disturbing trend to finish solid waste by burying it into womb of mother earth, non-compliance of NGT’s orders in certain cases, garbage vulnerable points in Ludhiana and recommendations, etc.

The Tribunal vide order dated 25-07-2022, held that the Municipal Corporation, Ludhiana is liable to deposit a sum of Rs. 100 crores as interim compensation for remedial measures which is to be overseen by the Monitoring Committee. Moreover, the victims are entitled to compensation of Rs. 57.5 lakhs. The Tribunal issued directions to the authorities to adopt necessary safety measures and asked them to file further action taken report.

“…in view of preponderance of probabilities that death of seven persons is attributable to fire of the dump site, the Municipal Corporation is held liable to pay compensation to their next of kin by way of deposit with the District Magistrate, Ludhiana within one month. Compensation is assessed at Rs. 57.5 lacs – Rs. 10 lacs each for persons aged above 50 and Rs.7.5 lac each to the persons below 20 on the principle laid down in MCD v. Uphaar Tragedy Victims Assn., (2011) 14 SCC 481.”

Dismissing the review application filed by the Municipal Corporation vide order dated 18-08-2022, the Tribunal held that merely making of a plan did not exonerate statutory liability to scientifically process the waste and past liability for damage to the environment.

The Tribunal observed that 5 lakhs MT of bioremediation work is taken up and the remaining 19.6 lakhs tonnes of bioremediation work is yet to take off. A compensation of Rs. 57.5 lakhs have been deposited in a separate account for disbursement after the police enquiry is completed. Municipal Corporation, Ludhiana also prepared a plan for remediation at the cost of Rs. 200 Crores and a sum of Rs. 40 Crores has been deposited in a separate account under the Deputy Commissioner.

The Tribunal opined that there is no reason for non-compliance of rest of the order and called the stand “untenable” and an “uncalled-for attempt of the Municipal Corporation” to link the disbursement of the compensation to the inquiry.

The Tribunal stated that the compensation payable to the victims has to be disbursed in the manner directed vide order dated 25.07.2022 and uncalled for attempt of the Municipal Corporation that disbursement of compensation will be linked to the Police enquiry is patently untenable. The compensation may be deposited/disbursed strictly as per directions vide order dated 25.07.2022.

The Tribunal further directed the Municipal Corporation to carry out its obligation for remediation of legacy waste of 30 lakhs MT as well as scientific management of current waste strictly in accordance with Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 and made Chief Secretary of the State personally accountable for continuing default.

[In re: News item published in The Indian Express dated 20-04- 2022, titled “7 Charred to death in fire near Ludhiana dumpsite”, 2022 SCC OnLine NGT 246, order dated 01-11-2022]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Mr. Ankit Siwach, Counsel for MC Ludhiana;

Mr. Amit Singh Chauhan, Counsel for CPCB.

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

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National Green Tribunal | Passing a revolutionary directions to the State for controlling Noise Pollution, a bench comprising of Sheo Kumar Singh (Judicial Member), J. and Dr. Arun Kumar Verma (Expert Member) come down heavily on the State government on their insouciant and careless feet dragging over controlling noise pollution from vehicular horns and modified exhausts in the State and directed the State to compulsorily abide and implement the existing legislative framework on the subject matter.

Applicant’s gravamen

That applicant vide letter to RSRTC, brought its attention on agonizing effects of use of air pressure horns by the State-owned buses on daily basis in their normal course of commutation throughout the State leading to violation of the laws on the noise pollution. Several newspapers also published articles related to the same issue. But no actions were taken by the State machineries/ respondents regarding repeated violation of the law laid in statutes and the judgments passed by the Supreme Court and this Tribunal. The applicant approached the Tribunal regarding flagrant violation of laid laws on noise pollution

The applicant contended that unchecked noise pollution levels impair the right to life, health, and wellbeing of around nine crore citizens residing in the State of Rajasthan. The applicant stated newspaper reports which contended that 70% of the noise pollution in the city of Jaipur is being caused by a single source i.e., vehicular noise pollution. Moreover, the intensity of vehicular horns in some cases is well above 100 decibels which is much more than the safety standards of 55 decibels as prescribed by law in Residential areas.

Tribunal’s Observation

The Tribunal stated that

Nobody can claim a fundamental right to create noise by amplifying the sound of his speech with the help of loudspeakers. While one has a right to speech, others have a right to listen or decline to listen. Nobody can be compelled to listen and nobody can claim that he has a right to make his voice trespass into the ears or mind of others. Nobody can indulge into aural aggression. If anyone increases his volume of speech and that too with the assistance of artificial devices so as to compulsorily expose unwilling persons to hear a noise raised to unpleasant or obnoxious levels then the person speaking is violating the right of others to a peaceful, comfortable and pollution-free life guaranteed by Article 21.

The Tribunal relied on Free Legal Aid Cell Sugan Chand Aggarwal v. State (NCT of Delhi), 2001 SCC OnLine Del 713 and P.A. Jacob v. Superintendent of Police, 1992 SCC OnLine Ker 170, where it was held that the right to live in an atmosphere free from noise pollution is guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution.

The Tribunal opined that Article 19(1)(a) cannot be pressed into service for defeating the fundamental right guaranteed by Article 21.

The Tribunal observed that non-recognition of noise pollution problems will ultimately affect human health and comfort in the same manner as air and water pollution problems have. The effects of noise pollution could lead to physical effects such as hearing defects, physiological effects such as increased blood pressure, irregularity of heart rhythms and ulcers and psychological effects, such as disorders, sleeplessness and going to sleep late, irritability and stress and finally and can also affects the work performance by reduction of productivity and misunderstanding what is heard.

The Tribunal also observed that directions issued by the Supreme Court in In Re: Noise Pollution, (2005) 5 SCC 733, were in exercise of power conferred on it under Articles 141 and 142 of the Constitution and thus, would remain in force in the State until it is modified by the Supreme Court or superseded by an appropriate legislation. These directions are as follows:

i. The State should organize special talks and lectures in the schools to highlight the menace of noise pollution and the role of the children and younger generation in preventing it.

ii. The Police and civic administration should be trained to understand the various methods to curb the problem and also the laws on the subject.

iii. The State should encourage Residents Welfare Associations, Service Clubs and Societies engaged in preventing noise pollution and should be actively involved by the local administration.

iv. The State should raise special public awareness campaigns in anticipation of festivals, events and ceremonial occasions where firecrackers are likely to be used or need to be carried out.

Tribunal’s Direction

The Tribunal directed the State to comply with the directions laid by the Supreme Court in In Re: Noise Pollution, (2005) 5 SCC 733 and Balwant Singh v. Commr. of Police, (2015) 4 SCC 801 amongst various other judgments covering the issue. The Court wherein directed the States to ensure:

  1. No noise source shall exceed 10 dB(A) limit above the ambient noise standards for the area or 75 dB(A), whichever is lower; and
  2. No horn should be allowed to be used at night (between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.) in residential areas except in exceptional circumstances; and
  3. The States shall make provision for seizure and confiscation of any noise source which is found to be creating noise beyond the permissible limits.

The Tribunal directed the State to comply with the directions laid in Vardhaman Kaushik v. Union of India, 2016 SCC OnLine NGT 3812, where the Tribunal prescribed a fine of Rs. 5,000/- in the form of Environment Compensation per act of noise pollution, which is to be collected by Traffic Police and maintained in a separate account with a liberty to authorities to approach the Tribunal in event of default of payment by a defaulter of Environment Compensation as the existing provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 were insufficient to fulfil and secure the mandate of the Noise Rules, 2000. The Tribunal also directed the State to comply with ‘Scales of Compensation’ devised by the CPCB in exercise of its powers and under directions of the Tribunal in Hardeep Singh v. South Delhi Municipal Corporation., 2019 SCC OnLine NGT 221.

The Tribunal directed the State to direct the automobile manufacturers to provide information on sound levels of vehicles at the point of sale and in technical promotional material, information to the consumers about the sound emissions of a vehicle and also the horns based on Precautionary Principle. The automobile manufacturers shall also provide the certificate of compliance issued under R. 120(2) of Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989 or even that of horn/silencer etc. to the automobile purchaser and the same shall be available on automobile manufacturer’s website in public domain, for each prototype of vehicle.

The Tribunal directed the State PCB to notify the noise emission standards for vehicles at manufacturing and in-use stage and then issue necessary directions under S. 20 of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, to the concerned Authorities for enforcement of such standards.

The Tribunal further directed the State to ensure strict compliance of R. 115(7) of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989 wherein it is stipulated that only vehicles that carry valid PUC Certificate issued by authorised agency will permit to run in the State. The Tribunal also directed the State:

i. To record the PUC data which shall be automatically linked with the Central Server by way of uniform standardized software;

ii. To limit the number of PUC centres and upgrade them under strong supervision and control so to foster quality;

iii. To link annual vehicle insurance and vehicle registration with PUC certificate;

iv. To develop and adopt uniform and standardized data recording and reporting format by way of software which shall automatically transmit PUC data through online network to the Central Server;

v. To properly analyze PUC data for remote auditing of PUC centres;

vi. To strengthen inspection of PUC centres for quality control;

vii. To strengthen the licensing programme to ensure proper calibration authentic test;

viii. To float annual maintenance contracts for the maintenance of all testing equipment and accessories training of operators, calibration of equipments;

ix. To upgrade testing centers for high level of automatic emission testing so that operators and vehicles drivers are prevented from manipulation of results;

x. To introduce well equipped mobile test centres;

xi. To introduce a programme to detect and check visibly polluting vehicles.

[Consumer Unity & Trust Society, Jaipur v. State of Rajasthan, 2022 SCC OnLine NGT 213, decided on 23.08.2022]

Advocates who appeared in this case:

Mr. Tarun Agarwal and Mr. Bhaskar Agarwal, Counsel for the Applicant;

Mr. Shoeb Hasan Khan, Counsel for the Respondents.

*Ritu Singh, Editorial Assistant has put this report together

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Green Tribunal, New Delhi (NGT): The coram of Adarsh Kumar Goel J (Chairperson), Sudhir Agarwal (Judicial Member), JJ. and Prof. A. Senthil Vel (Expert Member) took up the issue of monitoring of solid waste management as per orders of the Supreme Court in Almitra H. Patel v. Union of India, 2014 SCC OnLine SC 1844, order dated 02.09.2014 as well as liquid waste management in Paryavaran Suraksha v. Union of India, (2017) 5 SCC 326 and awarded compensation of Rs. 12000 crore under S. 15 of National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 to remedy the continuing damage to the environment.

Orders of the Supreme Court

With regards to monitoring of solid waste management, the Supreme Court relied on Municipal Council, Ratlam v. Vardhichand, (1980) 4 SCC 162 and B.L. Wadhera v. Union of India, (1996) 2 SCC 594 where it was held that clean environment is fundamental right of citizens under Article 21 and the local bodies as well as the State should ensure that public health is preserved by taking all possible actions and held that “…handling of solid municipal waste is a perennial challenge and would require constant efforts and monitoring with a view to making the municipal authorities concerned accountable, taking note of dereliction, if any, issuing suitable directions consistent with the said Rules and direction incidental to the purpose underlying the Rules such as upgradation of technology wherever possible. All these matters can, in our opinion, be best left to be handled by the National Green Tribunal established under the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010.”

With regards to monitoring of liquid waste management, the Supreme Court in Paryavaran Suraksha v. Union of India, (2017) 5 SCC 326 held that “the Secretaries to the Government concerned shall be responsible for monitoring the progress and issuing necessary directions to the Pollution Control Board concerned, as may be required, for the implementation of the above directions. They shall be also responsible for collecting and maintaining records of data, in respect of the directions contained in this order. The said data shall be furnished to the Central Ground Water Authority, which shall evaluate the data and shall furnish the same to the Bench of the jurisdictional National Green Tribunal. To supervise complaints of non-implementation of the instant directions, the Benches concerned of the National Green Tribunal, will maintain running and numbered case files, by dividing the jurisdictional area into units.”

Tribunal’s Take

With regards to solid waste management, the Tribunal has considered the matter in the last eight years and as far as for liquid waste management, more than five years. The Tribunal Stated that

“Moreover, without fixing quantified liability necessary for restoration, mere passing of orders has not shown any tangible results in the last eight years (for solid waste management) and five years (for liquid waste management), even after expiry of statutory/laid down timelines. Continuing damage is required to be prevented in future and past damage is to be restored.”

The Tribunal observed that there is no meaningful progress and there are huge gaps in management of solid as well as liquid waste. The Tribunal stated that further steps are to be taken for past violations liability of the State in terms of monetary compensation on ‘Polluter Pays’ principle which will be utilised for restoration of damage to the environment.

The Tribunal also stated that restoration measures for sewage management would include, establishing sewage treatment and utilisation systems, ensuring compliance with standards, upgrading systems/operations to ensure full capacity utilisation and establishing proper faecal sewage and sludge management in rural areas.

For solid waste management, the Tribunal suggested for segregation of the solid waste at its source and at earliest processing which includes establishment of waste processing units for adequate compositing/vermicomposting/bio-methanation and rehabilitation of 84 sites that have been overlooked.

The Tribunal also suggested that bioremediation/bio-mining process must be carried out in accordance with CPCB guidelines. The Tribunal stated that the restoration plan must be executed in a time bound manner and if violations continued, additional compensation may be considered against the State.

“This restoration plan needs to be planned and executed in a time bound manner without further delay. If violations continue, liability to pay additional compensation may have to be considered. Compliance will be the responsibility of the Chief Secretary”

The Tribunal observed that it is high time that the State realize its duty towards law and citizens and adopts further monitoring at its own level and decided to rest compensation on State as per Polluter Pays principle under S. 20 of the NGT Act, 2010.

“Compensation has to be equal to the loss to the environment and also taking into account cost of remediation.”

The Tribunal relied on Abhisht Kusum Gupta v. State of U.P., 2021 SCC OnLine NGT 205 and determined the compensation of ₹10,840 crores in respect of gap in treatment of liquid waste and ₹1,200 Crores in respect of un-remediated legacy waste, in total ₹12,000 crores and directed the State of Maharashtra to deposit the same in a separate ring-fenced account within two months which is to be operated as per directions of Chief Secretary for restoration measures. Further, it has also been directed to Chief Secretary to consider filing six monthly progress reports with a copy to the Registrar General of this Tribunal.

[In re: Compliance of Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 and other environmental issues, 2022 SCC OnLine NGT 209, decided on 08.09.2022]

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

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In an appeal regarding the jurisdiction of National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) to pass an order to operate a unit without Environmental Clearance and against the decision of closure of the unit, the bench of Hemant Gupta* and Vikram Nath, JJ. has observed that there was no error in the order passed by the Tribunal that opportunity should be provided to re-rolling or cold rolling units to fall within Environmental Clearance (EC) regime by granting a period of at least one year to operate for the purpose. However, the order of closure of the unit cannot be sustained.

The Court noted that an application was filed before the Tribunal on 20.7.2019 on the ground that the Project Proponent has set up the unit in violation of Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification as such plant would fall within category 3(a) i.e., secondary metallurgical industry, for which prior environmental clearance is required. The Tribunal took a prima facie view that the industry requires environmental clearance and thus stayed all activities of the project. The Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) recommended the granting a grace period of one year to the industry that has been established after Consent to establish and Consent to operate, and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change were in favour of the same, on this basis the Tribunal passed the order that opportunity should be provided to such units to fall within the Environment Clearance regime by granting a period of at least one year to operate for the purpose.

The applicant/appellant challenged the time granted by the Tribunal on the ground that the Tribunal has no jurisdiction to grant period for obtaining Environmental Clearance as the EIA notification mandates a prior Environmental Clearance and as consent was not obtained before the setting up of the industry, the time limit of one year is against the mandate of Section 21 of the NGT Act, 2010.

Further, the Project Proponent/appellant, aggrieved against the order passed by the Tribunal, challenged the findings recorded that Environmental Clearance is required as during the pendency of the appeal a closure notice was served by the Gujarat State Pollution Control Board and the unit was closed in terms of the said notice.

Per Contra, the Government has published a notification on 20.7.2022 in terms of Section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 to apply Terms of Reference within one year followed by Environmental Clearance and has taken a considered decision in line with the NGT order.

The Court noted that there was an ambiguity whether such Rolling Steel Mills are required to obtain prior Environmental Clearance, and viewed that there was no error in the order passed by the Tribunal as it was based upon the recommendation of the EAC which suggested that one year time should be granted to the industry to comply with the EIA notification. Further, it is not a case of ambiguous interpretation in respect of one or two units but the entire country was having the same interpretation that Re-Rolling Steel Plants do not require a prior Environmental Clearance and that ambiguity has been removed on 20.7.2022 when the notification has been amended. Since there was ambiguity earlier, the Tribunal had granted time to the Project Proponent to comply with the requirement of Environmental Clearance.

The Court further viewed the decision in Alembic Pharmaceuticals Ltd. v. Rohit Prajapati, (2020) 17 SCC 157 , wherein the Court found that the circular is contrary to the EIA notification of 1994 wherein the Ministry decided that the industrial units which had gone into production without obtaining an EC would have to apply for and obtain an ex-post facto EC has no applicability to the facts of the present case where the Ministry itself is of the opinion that there was an ambiguity in the EIA notification of 2006 which was subsequently amended in 2022.

The Court took note of the ruling in Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai v. Ankita Sinha, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 897 wherein the Court held “that the NGT Act, when read as a whole, gives much leeway to the NGT to go beyond a mere adjudicatory role and the Parliament’s intention is to create a multifunctional body, with the capacity to provide redressal for environmental exigencies”. Thus, such directions of the Tribunal are, in fact, arising out of the scope of powers conferred on the Tribunal under Section 21 of the NGT Act.

The Court also took note of the ruling in Pahwa Plastics (P) Ltd. v. Dastak NGO, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 362, wherein the Court held “that the ex-post Environmental Clearance should not ordinarily be granted but it cannot be declined with pedantic rigidity, regardless of the consequences of stopping the operation”. Hence, the order of the Tribunal to close the units was found to be erroneous.

The Court further observed that out of 1689 units in the country, the applicant has chosen the Project Proponent as it appears to be a motivated petition to target the Project Proponent though the Cold Steel Rolling Mills in the country were operating under the same regime. Moreover, not only the Project Proponent, but the country also has suffered immensely on account of closure of the unit which was export oriented unit. The unit has been lying closed since 2021 and in view of the amendment in the EIA notification in 2022, the unit has time to seek EC in terms of the time line mentioned in the notification. Therefore, the order of closure of the unit cannot be sustained.

 [Gajubha Jadeja Jesar v. Union of India, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 993, decided on 10.08.2022]

*Judgment by: Justice Hemant Gupta

Delhi High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts


Delhi High Court: In a PIL filed seeking to impose a complete ban on flying kites, a Division Bench of Satish Chandra Sharma, CJ and Subramonium Prasad J. clarified that complete ban cannot be granted but the use of Chinese Maanjha can be curbed by strictly adhering to orders and notifications passed by the Government and competent authorities from time to time.

The petition was filed by a practicing Advocate ‘petitioner' seeking issuance of writ in the nature of Mandamus or any other appropriate writ/direction/ order to Union of India ‘respondents' to impose complete ban on flying, making, sale-purchase, storage, transportation of kites and objects used in making and flying of kite. This is due to use of kite flying thread made up of Nylon, Plastic and other Synthetic material commonly known as Chinese Maanjha which has led to a large number of accidents taking place in and around Delhi. A large number of people are getting injured, and not only people, even animals and birds are also becoming victims of Chinese Maanjha.

Counsel for State informed Court regarding a notification dated 10-01-2017 issued by GNCTD which imposes complete ban on use of Chinese Maanjha and other similar material and a Monitoring Committee has also been constituted to look into the matter. The state has ensured strict compliance of the notification before Court.

Further, it was also brought to the attention of the Court that an order dated 10-08-2020 has been passed by National Green Tribunal prohibiting manufacture, sale, storage, purchase and use of thread made of Nylon, synthetic material and/or coated with synthetic substance which is non-biodegradable for kite flying, and the said order of the NGT has been circulated to all authorities and strict compliance of the same is being ensured.

State also submitted that an order dated 18-07-2020 issued by ACP, Sub-Division — Mehrauli in exercise of powers under Section 144 Criminal Procedure Code has been passed in respect of imposing of ban on use of Chinese Maanjha

Thus, the Court noted that no further orders were required to be passed and further directed the strict compliance of the order passed by the NGT as well as the earlier order passed by the Government on the subject.

[Sanser Pal Singh v. Union of India, WP (C) No. 11592 of 2022, decided on 05-08-2022]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

For Petition- In person

For Respondents- Mr. Chetan Sharma, Additional Solicitor General and Mr. Anil Soni, CGSC with Mr. Amit Gupta, Mr. Rishav Dubey, Mr. Sahaj Garg & Mr. Saurabh Tripathi, Advocates for Respondent No.1/ UOI. Mr. Sameer Vashisht, Additional Standing Counsel with Ms. Sanjana Nangia, Advocate for Respondent No.2/ GNCTD. Mr. Sanjay Lao, Standing Counsel with Ms. Supriya Manan & Mr. Karan Jeet Rai Sharma, Advocates along with Mr. Shankar Banerjee, ACP (Legal Division) and Mr. Vinod Sharma, Inspector (Legal Division), PHQ, Delhi Police, for Respondent No.3/ DP.

*Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies


National Green Tribunal, New Delhi (NGT): The Bench of Adarsh Kumar Goel, J(Chairperson) and Sudhir Agarwal, J (Judicial Member) and Prof. A. Senthil Vel (Expert Member) took suo moto cognizance based on media report titled “Times's running out; Is India ready to handle 34,000 tonnes of Solar Waste by 2030?” highlighting the need for formulation of a sound solar waste management policy in India.

Upcoming Catastrophe

In the climate summit at Glasgow (COP26), Prime Minister, Narendra Modi announced that India would generate 40% of its installed energy capacity from non-fossil sources (solar, wind, hydro, biomass and nuclear) by 2030. The Government, thereafter, set an ambitious target installing renewable energy capacity of about 450 GW (Gigawatts) by 2030 in which its solar target is 280 GW (over 60%).

But as it is rightly said “with great power comes great responsibility”, with an ambitious target comes responsibility of tackling with solar waste, i.e. the electronic waste generated by discarded solar panels, which is going to increase by at least 4-5 fold by the next decade.

Therefore, it is high time that India should formulate a sound solar waste management policy as it has none.

NGT's Take

Noting the serious problem which India will face in future, NGT vide order dated 14.02.2022, directed the constitution of Joint Committee comprising of Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF & CC), and Secretary, Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE). Further, the MoEF & CC will be the Nodal agency for coordination and compliance.

Accordingly, a report dated 17.05.2022 was filed by MoEF&CC suggesting an action plan with phase wise steps to enable environmentally sound management of solar panel waste, after it was directed to prepare an Action Plan with regards to environmentally sound management of solar panel waste in accordance with the laid down norms.

Disposing the application, the Tribunal suggested that MoEF&CC may finalise further action in the matter, preferably within two months.

[In re: Article Published in the magazine i.e Down to earth dated 13 January 2022 Under the Title Time’s running out : Is India ready to handle 34,600 tonnes of Solar waste by 2030, Original Application No.112/2022, order dated 19.07.2022]

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2022 SCC Vol. 3 Part 4

In Part 4 of 2022 SCC Volume 3, read some very pertinent Supreme Court decisions, involving aspects regarding reservation, accountability of social media platforms, service law and more.

2022 SCC Vol. 3 Part 5

Read four articles and nine significant decisions of Supreme Court in Part 5 of 2022 SCC Volume 3.

2022 SCC Vol. 4 Part 1

In 2022 SCC Volume 4 Part 1, read a very interesting case, wherein the grievance of the builder was that out of total of 1134 apartments constructed and sold by them, the owners of merely 51 apartments have joined together and invoked the jurisdiction of the National Consumer Commission and that such a miniscule percentage of consumers cannot seek to file the complaint in a representative capacity. To know what happened in this case, read the Supreme Court decision in Brigade Enterprises Ltd. v. Anil Kumar Virmani(2022) 4 SCC 138

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the case where the Madhya Pradesh High Court Advocates Bar Association and the District Bar Association, both with their registered offices at Jabalpur, had raised a challenge to the vires of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 on various grounds, the bench of KM Joseph and Hrishikesh Roy, JJ has held,

A. The National Green Tribunal under Section 14 & 22 of the NGT Act does not oust the High Court’s jurisdiction under Article 226 & 227 as the same is a part of the basic structure of the Constitution.

B. The remedy of direct appeal to the Supreme Court under Section 22 of the NGT Act is intra vires the Constitution of India.

C. Section 3 of the NGT Act is not a case of excessive delegation of power to the Central Government.

D. The seat of the NGT benches can be located as per exigencies and it is not necessary to locate them in every State. The prayer for relocating the Bhopal NGT to Jabalpur is unmerited and is rejected.

Detailed Analysis

A. Whether the NGT ousts the High Court’s jurisdiction under Sections 14 & 22 of the NGT Act?

Nothing contained in the NGT Act either impliedly or explicitly, ousts the jurisdiction of the High Courts under Article 226 and 227 and the power of judicial review remains intact and unaffected by the NGT Act. The prerogative of writ jurisdiction of High Courts is neither taken away nor it can be ousted, as without any doubt, it is definitely a part of the basic structure of the Constitution. The High Court’s exercise their discretion in tandem with the law depending on the facts of each particular case. Since the High Court’s jurisdiction remain unaffected, the first question is answered in the negative, against the petitioners.

B. Whether a seat of the NGT should be in every State? If yes, should they invariably be established at the principal seat of High Court, which in this case would be Jabalpur instead of Bhopal?

It is also worthy of attention that the total disposal by all Benches of the NGT is 2799 cases during 12 months i.e., March, 2021 to February, 2022. The pendency figure for this period is 2237 only. The rate of disposal being higher than the pendency, no major backlog issue is seen before the NGT. The strikingly small 107 cases in the NGT’s Bhopal Bench must also receive our due attention. These data do not provide for a reasonable basis to entertain a prayer for a NGT Bench at Jabalpur or for that matter, an individual NGT Bench in each of those three States.

In such a situation, the location of the Bench to the extent possible, should be convenient and accessible to litigants of all three States. Bhopal is centrally located in relation to Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, & Chhattisgarh. Moreover, Bhopal being the capital of Madhya Pradesh, is well connected and accessible without much difficulty.

“This would commend to us that Bhopal is a sound locational choice for the NGT which caters to the litigants from three States.”

Further, the low case load in the Bhopal Bench, do not match with the strident plea of the petitioners to locate the Bench at Jabalpur. If the NGT Benches are set up in all 28 States and 8 union territories as is suggested by the petitioners, the judges and other members in these forums might be left twiddling their thumbs. Accordingly, no basis is seen to allow one NGT bench in every State.

“This is therefore perceived as an attempt by the petitioners (who are practicing lawyers in Jabalpur), to primarily espouse their professional interest. No other rational basis is seen for the Association’s plea for relocation of the NGT Bench to Jabalpur from Bhopal.”

C. Whether the remedy of direct appeal to the Supreme Court from the decisions of the NGT under Section 22 of the NGT Act is ultra vires to the Constitution? Whether an appeal mechanism be provided to the High Courts from the decisions of the NGT?

Even when a direct appeal to the Supreme Court is provided by a statute against the decision of a tribunal, the remedy under Article 226 or 227 before the High Court remains unextinguished. Moreover, the Appeal under Section 22 of the NGT Act, is limited to the grounds under Section 100 of the CPC and the Supreme Court does not function as a regular first appellate Court. Subject to discretion being exercised, the affected litigants can move High Court under Article 226 or 227 and in such cases, a SLP under Article 136 of the Constitution could also be maintained to the Supreme Court from the High Court’s verdict.

“With such choices being available for a party no rational justification is found for striking down Section 22 of the Act which provides for a direct appeal to the Supreme Court.”

On the ground raised by the Petitioners about Supreme Court being inaccessible, the Court observed that it would equally apply to litigants, from all across the country, who have to travel to the Supreme Court, either by way of Article 136 or Article 32 or any other provision. Despite the provision under Article 130 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court has no other bench away from Delhi.

“In these circumstances by pleading inaccessibility, the petitioners are also incidentally questioning, the location of the Supreme Court at New Delhi. Such a contention on the face of it would be irrational and not acceptable.”

D. Whether Section 3 of the NGT Act is ultra vires to the Constitution as suffering from the vice of excessive delegation?

The operationalization of the NGT, including the location of its Benches, was closely monitored by the Supreme Court. Further, the Union Government is to specify the ordinary place of sitting of NGT and its territorial jurisdiction under Section 3 of the NGT Act being mindful of the demand for environment litigation within a particular territorial area. The Government is also to be guided by the objects of the Act as also the directions given by the Supreme Court from time to time.

“Since, the Government is acting on the issue with the guidance of this Court, and the Government is obliged to follow the objectives of the NGT Act, adequate safeguards are seen to guide the government. We are therefore of the opinion that Section 3 of the NGT Act is not a case of excessive delegation.”

[Madhya Pradesh High Court Advocates Bar Association v. Union of India, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 639, decided on 18.05.2022]

*Judgment by: Justice Hrishikesh Roy


For Petitioners: Advocate Siddhartha R. Gupta, the learned counsel for the petitioners.

For UOI: Attorney General K.K. Venugopal and Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati

For State of Madhya Pradesh: Advocate Sunny Choudhary

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Taking note of the “appalling situation” concerning National Green Tribunal where, as of today, there are about 14 vacancies (seven judicial members and seven technical members), the 3-judge bench of AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ has directed Centre to notify, within 10 days, all the existing vacancies at one go, including the anticipated vacancies likely to take place in the next six months.

The Court noticed that the Tribunal is presently functioning with the strength of only seven judges i.e. one chairman, three judicial members and three technical members, despite the mandate to ensure that the minimum number of members shall not be less than 10. It said,

“This is an appalling situation concerning the premier institution such as National Green Tribunal, which is required to deal with environmental issues. That cannot be countenanced.”

Centre had, in it’s response, given assurance that notification for filling up nine vacancies is being issued by the end of July, 2020. But the Court said that it was not enough and that a notification for ALL vacancies was needed to be issued.

The Court, further, directed that until the proposed selection process culminates with appointment order(s) of the concerned candidates against the existing vacancies, the members presently in office as on this date but are likely to retire shortly, shall continue to hold office in terms of this order and discharge their functions accordingly.

The Court has asked the Centre to file a compliance report by the next date of hearing i.e. 13.08.2020.

[NGT Bar Association (Western Zone) v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 591 , order dated 23.07.2020]

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Appointments & TransfersNews

S.O.   3325(E).— In  exercise  of the powers conferred by sub-sections (1) and (2) of Section 6 and Section 7 of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 (19 of 2010), the Central Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of India appointed Justice Shri Adarsh Kumar Goel, Judge of the Supreme Court of India as the Chairperson of the National Green Tribunal with effect from the date of publication of this notification  in the Official Gazette for a period of five  years or till he attains the age of seventy years, whichever is earlier.

Ministry of Environment,  Forest and Climate Change

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: On 04.08.2017, the bench of J.S. Khehar, CJ and Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, J agreed to hear the plea filed by Congress leader Jairam Ramesh challenging the validity of some provisions of the Financy Act, 2017 on the ground that those provisions would destroy the independent functioning of the NGT and 18 other tribunals.

The Court, however, refused to stay the operation of the Act and tagged the petition with a  similar pending petition filed by NGO Social Action for Forest and Environment.

The Finance Act, 2017, which came into effect from April 1, led to framing of the Tribunal, Appellate Tribunal and other Authorities (Qualifications, Experience and other Conditions of Service of Members) Rules, 2017 and these allegedly gave “unbridled” powers to the Executive to decide the qualification of the members, their appointment and removal among other issues. The petitioner said that the changes brought about by the Act would weaken functioning of tribunals including the NGT and curtail their powers and that the tribunal rules gave primacy to the Executive in the appointment and removal process of the chairperson or president and judicial members of the statutory tribunals and authorities and it amounted to attempting to usurp judicial appointment powers and influence the administration of justice.

Source: PTI


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]