NGT
Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Green Tribunal (Central Zone Bench): While addressing the issue of pressure/air horns and motor vehicles being driven with intolerable sound in Rajasthan, the Bench comprising of Justice Sheo Kumar Singh (Judicial Member) and Dr. Arun Kumar Verma (Expert Member) found the State of Rajasthan in contempt of the Supreme Court’s order and issued notice to the state government to reply within three weeks.

The applicant had approached the Tribunal with a social cause pertaining to failure of the State to ensure effective implementation of laws related to noise pollution. To point out the deplorable state of affairs on the rampant noise pollution in the State which majorly emanates from vehicles either through incessant use of horns and modified exhausts, the applicants had submitted various State recorded data, environmental and motor laws and recent news reports before the Tribunal.

The applicant submitted that as per Rule 3(3) of Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 formed under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, respective State Governments are responsible for abatement of noise radiating from vehicular exhausts and horns and to ensure that, Ambient Air Quality Standards, scheduled under the Rules are realized.

Further, the applicant contended, even otherwise State inaction on such crucial issue culminated to contempt of Court as there was non-compliance with the directions of the Supreme Court in Balwant Singh v. Commissioner of Police, (2015) 4 SCC 801, wherein while dealing with the issue of rampant and unchecked noise pollution in the State of Rajasthan, in particular with respect to State capital i.e., Jaipur, the Court had directed compliance of its earlier judgment in, Noise Pollution – Implementation of the Laws for restricting use of loudspeakers and high volume producing sound systems; In re, (2005) 5 SCC 733, wherein State Governments were directed to ensure the following:

  1. Limit noise sources to 10 dB(A) above the ambient noise standards for the area or 75 dB(A), whichever is lower; and
  2. Prohibit use of horn during night (between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.) in residential areas except in exceptional circumstances; and

iii. Make provision for seizure and confiscation of any noise source creating noise beyond the permissible limits.

The issue had also been addressed by the National Green Tribunal (Principal Bench), in Hardeep Singh v. South Delhi Municipal Corpn., O.A. No. 519/2016 (P.B.), wherein directions were issued to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to devise the scale of compensation on the basis of ‘Polluter Pays’ principle to curb the menace of noise pollution and ensure implementation of the mandate and spirit of Rules. Resultantly, the CPCB had issued a directive that in the event of violation of Rules, imposition of fine of Rs. 10,000/- and seizure of polluting source will be undertaken. Pertinently, a nationwide directive dated 27/04/2021 was also issued to all the State P.C.B. to implement and ensure compliance of ‘Scales of Compensation’ with immediate effect on receipt of the directive.

Relying on the fact that the direction on pan India level had already been issued by Principal Bench of NGT in Hardeep Singh’s case, the found the State in contempt and directed to comply and follow the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court, NGT (Principle Bench) as well as by the CPCB for monitoring and controlling the noise pollution. [Consumer Unity & Trust Society, Jaipur v. State of Rajasthan, Original Application No.79 of 2021, decided on 12-01-2022]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


Appearance by:

For the Applicants: Bhaskar Agarwal, Advocate with Tarun Agarwal, Advocate

For Respondent(s): Shoeb Hasan Khan, Advocate with Rohit Sharma, Advocate

Telangana High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Telangana High Court: A Division Bench of Raghvendra Singh Chauhan, CJ and B. Vijaysen Reddy, J., while addressing the present petition observed that,

Section 33A of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and 31A of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 do not necessarily require that the principles of natural justice should be followed, moreover the stated provisions bestow an urgent power, or an exceptional power, on the Pollution Control Board whereby the closure of a unit may be required on an emergent basis.

CLOSURE NOTICE

Petitioner challenged the legality of the closure notice passed by respondent 3.

BACKGROUND

Petitioner claimed to be a pharmaceutical company of bulk drugs. It claims that it is engaged in the manufacturing of bulk drugs.

Further, it was also granted the Certificate For Establishment (CFE) to manufacture fifteen (15) bulk drugs with a maximum production capacity of 1900 kg/day, with a condition that the Industry shall not produce more than four products, and individual capacities mentioned therein at any given point of time.

Subsequently, the company was granted the Consent For Operation (CFO) under the Hazardous Waste Act for manufacturing two products at a given point of time, out of fifteen products.

According to the petitioner, the CFO was renewed and continues to be valid till 31-03-2023.

Respondent 2 had received a complaint with regard to the discharge of acid water causing groundwater pollution. Hence an inspection was carried out and a closure notice was issued.

In view of the above-stated position, the present petition was filed.

ANALYSIS & DECISION

Bench referred to Section 33A of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and 31A of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.

The above two provisions are in identical terms.

POST-DECISIONAL HEARING

Court states that a post-decisional hearing can always be given by the Pollution Control Board to the erring unit to rectify the defects or the violations committed by the erring unit.

Further, the Court added that though the report submitted the Pollution Control Board clearly reveals that there is a large number of lacunae/defects/violations of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, and of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act committed by the petitioner still a chance must be given to rectify the errors committed.

In light of the above-stated, the petition was disposed of. [Kosher Pharmaceutical (P) Ltd. v. State of Telangana, 2020 SCC OnLine TS 1029, decided on 01-09-2020]

Uttarakhand High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: A Division Bench of Ramesh Ranganathan, CJ. and N.S. Dhanik, J. entertained a petition seeking a writ of certiorari to quash the order passed by Uttarakhand Environment Protection and Pollution Control Board. 

The learned counsel for the petitioner, Vikas Kumar Guglani, submitted that impugned order by the respondent of the closure of the Unit due to several deficiencies in the said unit must be quashed and the unit must be de-sealed. After the rectification of the deficiencies noted by the Pollution Control Board and complying with the stipulated norms, the unit is still closed as the authority has not given a clean chit for de-sealing. 

Further the learned counsel for the respondent, Aditya Pratap Singh, submitted that the petitioner’s representation would only be considered in accordance with law after an inspection of the unit would be caused again by the officials of the Pollution Control Board to satisfy themselves that the petitioner’s claim of having complied with the stipulated norms were valid or not. He contended that necessary orders would be passed thereafter in accordance with law with utmost expedition. 

The Court, in this regard, observed that petitioner’s unit was closed for a week, thus directing the Board to conduct and examine the unit and cause an inspection of the subject unit. It is also important that the respondent must be satisfied that the petitioner has complied with the said norms and thereafter make any decision as it is a matter related to public interest and environment. [Eurasia Door Devices v. State of Uttarakhand, 2019 SCC OnLine Utt 346, decided on 03-05-2019]

NGT
Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Green Tribunal (NGT): A Division Bench comprising of Raghuvendra S. Rathore, Judicial Member and Satyawan Singh, Expert Member, emphasized the duty of the State towards compliance with relation to environmental laws.

The construction in question was raised without obtaining consent to establish the State’s new Legislative Assembly building from the Pollution Control Board, and Central Ground Water Authority. It was argued that obtaining environmental clearance was not required because the total built-up area was less than 20,000 sq mtrs.

But the fact that due to further construction, the area has been raised and now the total built-up area was more than 25,000 sq mtrs thereby making it as mandatory for the respondents to obtain environmental clearance for the same.

The Tribunal expressed its surprise with respect to the act of the respondents by stating that they should have taken steps for obtaining the consent for the environment clearance when the idea of the new construction was so proposed but the same was never done. The Tribunal also observed that in order to confine the construction up to 25,000 sq mtrs, the respondents deliberately initially raised the construction by keeping it within the range of 20,000 sq mtrs so that subsequent construction would not show that they exceeded the limit from the very beginning. The Tribunal pressed upon the fact that the respondents ought to have obtained environmental clearance the moment they felt the need for additional construction, which was now admittedly more than 25,000 sq mtrs. Moreover, compliance of law and the steps to be taken towards it was all the more necessary because the building was a State Legislative Assembly.

The Tribunal concluded by emphasizing the sincerity with which the respondents must have acted, and non-compliance of law by the authorities itself would set a wrong example especially when the matter was concerned with environmental law and they were duty bound towards it. [Vikrant Tongad v. Union of India, O.A No. 529 of 2016 (M. A. No. 988/2016), 13-09-2018]