NGT Takes Action on Air Pollution in Delhi and Neighbouring States

The NGT on November 10, 2016 passed an order in Vardhaman Kaushik vs Union of India on the issue of Air Pollution in Delhi and its neighbouring states namely, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan (“States”) with the directions to control and bring to normal the situation of Air Pollution in these regions.

The NGT, dismayed by the inaction and indifferent approach of the States, stated in its judgement that it was constrained to pass directions  in order to ensure that some action is taken by the States to manage this grave situation.

NGT has directed constitution of a Monitory Committee that would ensure proper implementation of the law and judgements passed in relation to the prevention of Air Pollution, and defining parameters of particulate matter above which a situation will be declared as ‘environmental emergency’ and the same will be dealt with in a manner as prescribed by in this order by the Tribunal.

The Tribunal also discussed the issue of crop burning in Punjab elaborately and passed directions in that regard that included giving incentives to farmers not to burn crop residue and using the same in cement industry, as biomass and as manure.

(A detailed note on the judgement available at Air Law & Policy Report is attached.)

Click here

Deskit Angmo

LIFE, New Delhi 

 

NGT notice to MoEF on decentralisation of environment clearance for sand mining

The Ministry in January had notified the minor mineral mining policy, decentralising the process of granting environmental clearance (EC) for sustainable mining of sand and minerals.

By: PTI | New Delhi | Published:September 28, 2016 4:39 am

Government’s new policy to decentralise the process of granting environmental clearance to mining of sand and minor minerals has come under the scanner of the National Green Tribunal.

An environment activist has moved a plea before the green panel seeking quashing of two notifications issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to amend the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification 2006 and constitution of district level panels for appraising projects for mining of minor minerals.

Taking note of the plea, a bench headed by Justice Jawad Rahim issued notice to the Environment Ministry seeking its reply within two weeks. The matter was listed for next hearing on November 2.

The Ministry in January had notified the minor mineral mining policy, decentralising the process of granting environmental clearance (EC) for sustainable mining of sand and minerals. Read more

Courtesy: The Indian Express

Guideline on appointment of Chairperson and Member Secretaries of State Pollution Control Boards

In Rajendra Bhandari v. State of Uttarakhand, the Principal Bench of National Green Tribunal was confronted with a case in which unfit appointment of Chairperson and Member Secretary in the State Pollution Control Board was highlighted. NGT issued following guideline on appointment of Chairperson and Member Secretaries of State Pollution Control Board in the case.

Eligibility Criteria

1) Special Knowledge:

  • It means knowledge which is surpassing, distinguishing and exceptional in nature and is derived through rigorous study or research over a reasonable period of time in the field of matters relating to environment.
  • An academic qualification in the field of environmental protection as recognized by university established by law.
  • The Tribunal for instance listed the name of few courses that are offered in India such as civil/chemical engineering in environmental engineering, post-graduate in environmental engineering/ environmental management, 4 years graduate in environmental engineering, 2 years M.Sc. in environment science/ environmental management.
  • Though the provisions of Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 (“Air Act”) and Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 (“Water Act”) does not specifically mention that basic academic qualification in environmental protection is required but the term “special knowledge” covers such a requirement as the legislature cannot be presumed to be oblivious of existence of such basic qualification.
  • Chief Secretaries, IFS officer or officer of any other services, Environment Secretaries, politicians, MLAs, literary persons and non-technical persons should not be appointed as Chairperson of the State Board by the virtue of their designation.

2) Practical Experience:

  • It means knowledge gained through practice after putting it to practical use and a person having practical experience in respect of matters relating to environmental protection.
  • Person who has practical experience in matters relating to environment.

3) Knowledge and experience in administering institutions:

  • It does not merely mean to have experience in administering of an institution relating to environmental protection.
  • A person has to first have knowledge and experience in administering institutions dealing with matter of environment to be eligible for appointment.
  • The focus is on combined set of capabilities derived from both knowledge and experience in administering institutions dealing with matter relating to environment protection.
Rules

The State Government has to notify the rules under Air and Water Act expeditiously stating the qualification and experience required for the post of Chairperson and Member Secretary.

Tenure
  • The nominated Chairperson and Member Secretary should have a fixed term of office which should not be extended for more than one term and they should not hold their office as per their tenure in State Government.
  • Once a person fulfilling the eligibility criteria is appointed as Chairperson and Member Secretary in the State Board, then that person has to continue for full tenure and the same cannot be curtailed by removal or repatriated before its completion unless there are some charges of misconduct or cogent reasons to be placed on record.
  • Tenure should be unaffected by political and bureaucratic interference so that officials function fearlessly and according to the provisions of Air Act and Water Act.
Infrastructure
  • The State Government has to develop the infrastructure in the State Board by professional and technical officers who are efficient and competent to cope up with increase of industries and development centres.
  • The State Government has to ensure adequate manpower for the purpose of execution of the legal provisions.
  • The State Government should have latest equipped laboratories for analysis of samples of trade effluents etc
Meetings
  • The State Government has to ensure strict compliance of section 8 of the Water Act and section 10 of the Air Act so that meetings of the State Board are held regularly.
Time period
  • The State Government and all other competent authorities shall proceed to make appointment or nomination of the members of the Board within 3 months from the date of the pronouncement of this judgment i.e. 24th August 2016.
Others
  • The State Government and other concerned authorities have to act in accordance with the directions given in this judgement particularly paragraph 148.
  • The State Government has to ensure that the person manning the post of Chairperson and Member Secretary of State Board are competent and eligible with requisite knowledge or practical experience in the field of environment protection and pollution control along with management experience.

ERC, New Delhi

http://www.greentribunal.gov.in/Writereaddata/Downloads/318-2013%28PB-I-Judg%29OA24-8-2016.pdf

NGT Orders Criminal Prosecution Against TSGENCO

 

The Southern Zone bench of National Green Tribunal (NGT) came down heavily on Telangana State Power Generation Corporation Limited (TSGENCO) for illegally undertaking the construction work of its proposed 4x270MW Bhadradri Thermal Power Plant at Manuguru, Khammam district, Telangana, without obtaining prior statutory clearances such as “Environmental Clearance” under EIA Notification, 2006 and “Consent to Establish” under Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and Air Act (Prevention and Control of Pollution), 1981.

In a significant judgment passed on 11-07-2016 and delivered against TSGENCO in the Application [No. 206 of 2015] moved before it by Human Rights Forum (HRF) organization, the NGT has taken serious note of illegal construction work of the above-said project. Accordingly, the NGT has ordered for criminal prosecution of officials of TSGENCO by Telangana State Pollution Control Board (TSPCB) and Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) with four weeks from the date of Judgment, under the respective provisions of above-said legislations. Further, keeping in view of the already undertaken construction activities, the MoEF&CC has been given the direction to take its decision either to grant or reject the Environmental Clearance within eight weeks from the date of Judgment.

It is not the first case where companies have indulged into illegal construction activities of their Thermal Power Plants and have wilfully defaulted with law. Over the years, there have been many instances where companies have undertaken illegal construction activities. However, the statutory criminal action which has to be taken by the State PCBs and MoEF&CC against such illegal works has often been negligible. In a recent RTI Application which has been filed to MoEF&CC asking for details of criminal action which has been taken against companies that have undertaken illegal construction activities, the MoEF&CC replied stating “Such information is not separately maintained” by it. Such reply reveals the lack seriousness of the competent authorities in making the wilful defaulters liable in accordance with law.

Even in the present case, the TSPCB and MoEF&CC have exhibited their non-seriousness in taking action against the TSGENCO before the NGT judgment has been passed. The Applicant organization has repeatedly written to both the authorities to take statutory action against TSGENCO. However, both the authorities have paid complete disregard and have not taken any action against TSGENCO. This situation has been observed by NGT in its own words as “We are at a loss to understand as to why the Board has not chosen to take any penal action against the officials of the third respondent who are responsible for such activity.”

The present Judgment of the NGT gives a clear signal that the companies which default with Law will not be spared and shall be made liable. It is also a serious reminder to the competent authorities on the need for their duty to pro-actively take statutory action on the defaulters of Law

Suresh Kumar

 

NGT document

EIA Required for Large Metro Rail Projects

The issue of need of EIA for Metro Rail Projects was raised before The National Green Tribunal, Principal Bench New Delhi in Vikrant Tongad versus Noida Metro Rail Corporation & others (in the Miscellaneous Application No. 1092 of 2015 in Original Application No. 478 Of 2015). The Applicant raised the issues of law and procedure on the facts in relation to the construction of metro rail line from Noida to Greater Noida in Uttar Pradesh. The Applicant contended that these projects are covered under entry 8B of the EIA Notification of 2006 in as much as they are development projects. Though, the Tribunal found that reading of the entries of the Schedule does show that railway projects whether metro or otherwise has not been specifically mentioned in the entry, but it further discussed that two different expressions ‘Township’ and ‘Area Development Projects’ have been used.

Read more: EIA Required for Large Metro Rail Projects