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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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