Notify eco-sensitive zone on WG: NGT
The National Green Tribunal has directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to finalise the notification of eco-sensitive zone on the Western Ghats by December 31 saying there was no justification for continued delay. “Even if lockdown period is to be excluded, there is no justification for continued delay merely because the States have sought exclusion of area from eco sensitive zone. Let the needful be done now before December 31, 2020. For any default thereafter, direction to stop salary of the Advisor, ESZ Division, MoEF will be operative. A compliance report may be filed to this Tribunal before the next date by e-mail,” a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice A K Goel said.
It said there was demand for more and more exclusion of eco sensitive areas by those who claim the need for ‘development’ while need for ‘environment protection’ did not allow acceptance of such demands. “This aspect needs to be finalised and has been pending consideration for the past about eight years,” it said. The tribunal was hearing a plea alleging that notification of eco-sensitive zone on the Western Ghats had not been finalised despite NGT's direction to complete the exercise within six months. Noting that the ecology of the Western Ghats was under “serious stress”, the tribunal had earlier restrained six states falling in the region from giving environmental clearance to activities which might adversely affect the eco-sensitive areas. The green panel had allowed the MoEF to republish the draft notification of the Western Ghats and asked it to finalise the matter within six months without alterations to the eco-sensitive zone in terms of notification dated February 27, 2017. The tribunal had said the Western Ghats region was one of the richest biodiversity areas which needed to be conserved. The draft notification issued by the MoEF had identified area of 56,825 square kilometres spread across six states Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu as the Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA). Following protests by various groups and political parties against its recommendations, the government constituted the K Kasturirangan committee to examine the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel report. Instead of the total area, only 37 per cent (i.e. 60,000 sq km) of the Western Ghats should be brought under the ESA, the Kasturirangan committee has recommended.
Address gaps in treatment of sewage: NGT
The NGT has directed all States & Union Territories (UTs) to address gaps in generation & treatment of sewage or effluents by ensuring setting up of a requisite number of functional Effluent Treatment Plants (ETP), Sewage Treatment Plants (STP) & Common & Combined Effluent Treatment Plants (CETP). The NGT Bench headed by its chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel observed that the timeline for commissioning of all STPs fixed by the Supreme Court, March 31, 2018, had long passed & the top court directive that the State PCBs must initiate prosecution of the erring Secretaries to the Govts had also not happened. The National Green Tribunal, which was directed to monitor compliance & in the course thereof, said: “We direct that compensation may be recovered in the manner already directed in earlier orders, which may be deposited with the CPCB for the restoration of the environment.” The NGT said that it must be ensured that no untreated sewage & effluent is discharged into any water body. “Prompt remedial action may be taken by the State PCBs/PCCs against non-compliant ETPs/CETPs by closing down or restricting the effluents generating activity, recovering compensation & taking other coercive measures following due process of law,” the Green Tribunal said. The Tribunal said “since the above issue is interrelated to the issue of operation of STPs, it will be appropriate that this aspect is also now monitored by the CMC headed by the Secretary, Ministry of Jal Shakti & assisted by the CPCB & NMCG. Ministry of Urban Development may also nominate an officer of not below the rank of Joint Secretary in the said Committee”.
NGT asks to fine excessive plastic packaging
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to conduct environmental audit and recover fine from e-commerce firms Amazon, Flipkart and some beverages firms for violation of environmental norms in handling plastic waste generated by them. The Principal Bench of Green Tribunal headed by its chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel observed that the statutory regulators were not taking coercive measures, including invoking of “polluter pays” principle for enforcing the statutory norms against the e-commerce firms. The green panel passed this order after hearing a petition filed by 16-year-old boy Aditya Dubey, who has approached the tribunal to stop e-commerce giants Amazon and Flipkart from excessive plastic use in their packaging. Dubey, through his legal guardian, has pleaded the NGT to direct Amazon and Flipkart to stop excessive use of plastic in packaging the goods delivered by the firms. In another petition, Dubey also said Coca-Cola India, PepsiCo, Bisleri International, Parle Agro, Patanjali Peya Private, Nourish Co-Beverages Ltd. (Himalayan Water) and India Railway Catering & Tourism Corp (IRCTC) are not following norms in handling plastic. While asking the member secretary, CPCB to present during the hearing on the next date through video conferencing the bench said, “A report has been filed by the CPCB, which again mentions one or other reasons for not enforcing the law but does not mention the coercive measures adopted either directly by the CPCB or in coordination with the state pollution control boards." “The CPCB can also consider ordering environmental audit against the concerned entities and assess and recover compensation for violation of environmental norms, following due process of law,” the bench said. The tribunal sought an action taken report in the matter before October 14, the next date by email.
NGT wants environment plan for Najafgarh Lake
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice A K Goel asked the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to steer the proceedings for preparation of Environment Management Plan with the assistance of Central Pollution Control Board. The controversy over declaration of Najafgarh Jheel (lake) as a water body, falling both in Delhi and Gurgaon in Haryana, led the National Green Tribunal to direct both the governments to prepare an environment plan to prevent encroachments and construction in the area. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice A K Goel asked the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to steer the proceedings for preparation of Environment Management Plan with the assistance of Central Pollution Control Board. CPCB may coordinate as a nodal agency. Such plan may be prepared within three months. Action taken report may be filed before the next date by e-mail, the bench said. The matter has been posted for next hearing on January 27, 2021. The tribunal noted that according to a report received from the District Magistrate, Gurgaon, was to the effect that there was no entry of water body in the revenue record and the area was partly government land partly private. Counsel for Haryana stated however that there was a large water body in existence and a management plan was under the state's consideration.
NGT for scientific disposal of waste by oil refineries
The National Green Tribunal directed the state pollution control boards to ensure scientific disposal of hazardous waste by oil refineries. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel noted that disposal method and quantity was not defined clearly about a category of spent catalysts (Oxide), which is a hazardous waste. A six-member committee constituted by the tribunal informed the bench that IOCL Panipat, Haryana, IOCL Mathura Refinery, Uttar Pradesh, IOCL Barauni, Bihar, Reliance Jamnagar, Gujarat are generating Spent catalyst which were exceeding the authorised quantity of spent catalyst given in the authorisation by the concerned state pollution control board during the past three years, which was violation of hazardous waste management Rules, 2016. During the inspection, it was found that, the IOCL Panipat, HPCL Bhatinda and IOCL Digboi, are not maintaining packaging and labelling of hazardous and other waste, the committee said. The committee recommended that all oil refineries generating hazardous waste including spent catalyst should ensure to dispose off their hazardous and other waste in scientific manner or to the authorised utilisers/recyclers in accordance ofHazardous Waste Management Rules 2016. The tribunal said it was of the opinion that the recommendations of the Committee need to be followed.