Ensure Environmental Flow and Clean Yamuna in Delhi - NGT
In Manoj Misra & Madhu Bhaduri v/s UoI & others (Original Application No. 6 of 2012 and M.A. Nos. 967/2013 & 275/2014) regarding the Yamuna river in Delhi, the Principal Bench of the National Green Tribunal led by Justice Swatanter Kumar has given wide ranging directions (dated 13 January 2015). A team of environmental lawyers lead by Ritwick Dutta & Rahul Choudhary successfully argued for cleaning the river and protecting its flood plain
One of the most important directions in the case is regarding ensuring environmental flows in the river throughout the year.
NGT ordered, ‘We direct the Chief Secretaries of the States of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, NCT of Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, Secretary, Water Resources, Government of India and Secretary, MoEF, to hold a meeting within four weeks from today to prepare an immediate action plan required to ensure proper environmental flows throughout the year, in the entire river and particularly the stretch flowing through Delhi.
During the course of hearings, NGT ordered several committees and expert groups to prepare reports as well as reports were submitted by several government departments and agencies e.g. Delhi Jal Board (DJB) and Delhi Development Authority (DDA). The reports were expected.
‘The Tribunal hereby accepts both the reports filed by the Expert Committees: first report dated 19th April, 2014, read with the gist of recommendations submitted by the Principal Committee on 2nd August, 2014, on the aspects of preservation, restoration and beautification of the banks of River Yamuna and the second report dated 13th October, 2014, read with its annexure, in relation to drainage system in Delhi, together with the Action Plan prepared by the DJB for revitalization of River Yamuna.’
NGT has named the implementation programme of the judgement as ‘Maily Se Nirmal Yamuna’ Revitalization Project, 2017. This ambitious project should be completed by March 2017 as per the directions.
There are detailed directions regarding Sewage Treatment Plants (STP) and Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CETPs for industrial areas) so that no untreated sewage and effluent reach the river.
Flood plains of the Yamuna river in Delhi have to be identified and demarcated. NGT said ‘We direct and prohibit carrying on of any construction activity in the demarcated flood plain henceforth.’
Regarding Dumping of debris on the banks of the river, NGT directed that ‘no person, authority, corporation and/or by whatever name or designation it is called, shall dump any kind of construction debris, municipal, or any other waste on the floodplain/river bed of River Yamuna and its associated water bodies. There shall be complete prohibition on dumping of any material in and around River Yamuna.’ In this context, NGT ordered a compensation charge also as ‘Whoever violates this direction relating to the dumping of debris, shall be liable to pay compensation of Rs. 50,000/- on the ‘Polluter Pays’ Principle and the Precautionary Principle. Such compensation shall be used for removal of such waste and restoration of environment.’
Throwing of pooja material or any other material like, food-grain, oil, etc into River Yamuna, except on the designated site too has been prohibited and any person disobeying this direction shall be liable to pay compensation of Rs. 5,000/- on the ‘Polluter Pays’ Principle.
In addition, cleaning of all the 157 natural storm water drains has been ordered. There shall be no construction and/or coverage of any of the drains in Delhi by any Authority or Municipal Corporation unless more than 85 per cent work is complete.
The Yamuna River Front i.e. the flood plain shall be restored, preserved and beautified, strictly in accordance with the report of the Expert Committee.
Finally, the NGT constituted ‘Principal Committee’ would be responsible for implementation of the directions contained in this judgment.
The applicants (Mr Manoj Misra and Ms Madhu Bhaduri) have approached the Tribunal with ‘averments in their respective applications that their campaign has recognised that River Yamuna is not only a sacred river of India, but an aquatic lifeline for millions of people and also a large number of them depend on it for sustenance. Various studies and 9 data have revealed the fact that River Yamuna is critically threatened by unrelenting encroachments on its flood plain and by increasing population load, emanating as much as from domestic refuse, as from the agricultural practices in the flood plains and industrial effluents from the catchment area draining into Yamuna in Delhi.’
EIA Resource and Response Centre (ERC)
Project Proponents are to Publish Complete EC Letter for Public Knowledge
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) in Pushp Jain vs. Union of India & others (Original Application No. 172/2014) has reiterated that Project Proponents ‘cannot by-pass the provisions of the regulation’ while quoting Clause 10 of the EIA Notification, 2006 in its judgement on 14 November 2014 regarding publication of complete environmental clearance (EC) letter for public knowledge. The requirement of the law for Category ‘A’ projects is that ‘it shall be mandatory for the project proponent to make public the environmental clearance granted for their project along with the environmental conditions and safeguards at their cost by prominently advertising it at least in two local newspapers of the district or State where the project is located and in addition, this shall also be displayed in the project proponent’s website permanently.’
The EIA Notification 2006 makes it clear that it is the duty of the project proponent to publicize the environmental clearance in full form, namely, as per the conditions stated in Clause 10 of the EIA Notification, 2006 which is as follows:
“10. Post Environment Clearance Monitoring:- (i)(a) In respect of Category ‘A’ projects, it shall be mandatory for the project proponent to make public the environmental clearance granted for their project along with the environmental conditions and safeguards at their cost by prominently advertising it at least in two local newspapers of the District or State where the project is located. In addition, this shall also be displayed in the project proponent’s website permanently.
(b) In respect of Category ‘B’ projects, irrespective of its clearance by MoEF/SEIAA, the project proponent shall prominently advertise in the newspapers indicating that the project has been accorded environment clearance and the details of MoEF website where it is displayed.
(c) The Ministry of Environment and Forests and the State/Union Territory Level Environmental Impact Assessment Authorities (SEIAAs), as the case may be, shall also place the environmental clearance in the public domain on Government portal.
(d) The copies of the environment clearance shall be submitted by the project proponents to the Heads of local bodies, Panchayats and Municipal Bodies in addition to the relevant offices of the Government who in turn have to display the same for 30 days from the date of receipt.
[(ii)] It shall be mandatory for the project management to submit half-yearly compliance reports in respect of the stipulated prior environmental clearance terms and conditions in hard and soft copies to the regulatory authority concerned, on 1st June and 1st December of each calendar year.
[(iii)] All such compliance reports submitted by the project management shall be public documents. Copies of the same shall be given to any person on application to the concerned regulatory authority. The latest such compliance report shall also be displayed on the website of the concerned regulatory authority,”
We may, thus, expect a better compliance of regulation regarding the publication of complete environmental clearance (EC) letter by the Project proponents.
EIA Resource and Response Centre (ERC)
New Delhi. India
EC of IL&FS Tamil Nadu Power Quashed
National Green Tribunal in T. Muruganandam & others vs. MoEF and others (Appeal no. 50/2012) has quashed the Environmental Clearance granted by MoEF to IL&FS Tamil Nadu Power Company Limited, Chennai in its judgement today.
NGT directed the project proponent to carry out a fresh Cumulative Impact Assessment Study of the project. The Cumulative Impact Assessment Study would require to :
a. Collect baseline/primary data of each and every existing industry as required under prevalent regulations and compare with National Standards as notified by the Government from time to time.
b. Collect data regarding treated effluents discharge/likely to be discharged by such industries.
c. Collect primary baseline data on socio-economic environment.
d. Collect data regarding industry in offing and which are likely to come in next five years as per PCPIR declaration as aforesaid in liaison with State PCB and/or the project proponents.
e. Carry out impact prediction/assessment using appropriate mathematical models.
f. Suggest appropriate management plan/s for significant impacts including financial implications.
NGT further directed , ‘the Proponent shall place report of such study before the EAC and the EAC shall consider such report and assess whether comprehensive CEIA study is necessary or not and advice the Respondent No. 3 accordingly and thereafter shall carry out the appraisal of the said study or the comprehensive CEIA Study as the case may be as per EC Regulations 2006 and may either recommend the grant of EC on certain specific conditions or decline to recommend the grant of EC by passing a speaking/reasoned order i.e. either recommend or refuse to recommend on reasons adduced there-for.
‘MoEF shall duly consider the recommendations made by the EAC and shall pass an order in accordance with law.’
EIA Resource and Response Centre (ERC)
New Delhi 110048 India
NGT ASKS INDUSTRY POLLUTING RIVER GANGA TO PAY FIVE CRORES
Today (16.10.2014), the NGT in a landmark judgment with respect to pollution of river Ganga, has imposed a Rupees 5 crores fine on Simbhaoli Sugar Mill and Distillery unit and has also imposed Rs. 25 lakh fine on Gopalji Dairy. In an application filed by Krishan Kant Singh and Social Action for Forest and Environment, it was alleged that both these industries are discharging toxic and harmful effluents in Phuldehra drain which travels the Syana Escape Canal and finally joins river Ganga between Garhmukteshwar and Narora. The pollution from the units were also alleged to be affecting the dolphins, turtles and other aquatic life.
The expert member of the Tribunal visited the site on 29.3.2014 and noticed various defects and shortfalls in the functioning of these units and that they were a source of serious pollution. With respect to the Simbhaoli Sugar Mills, the Tribunal has found that :
“There is ample documentary evidence in the form of affidavits, inspection reports and analysis reports to show that Simbhaoli Mills is not only been a source of continuous pollution particularly surface and ground water but also failed to take precautions of its own accord and even in terms of the directions issued by the respective Board from time to time. Thus, it has endorsed itself to incurring a liability for relief and compensation for causing damage and for restitution of environment in the concerned areas.”
The NGT has come to the conclusion that the unit is responsible for causing environmental pollution of different water bodies, river Ganga and even ground water in and around the area. 'They also observed that beside scientific data of inspection, even to the naked eye demonstrates the extent of pollution caused by the unit.'
The Tribunal specifically recorded that:
“There can hardly be any dispute that it is a polluting unit. It is also beyond controversy that this unit has operated without consent of the Boards from 1974 till the year 1991, thereafter, it committed default in compliance of the conditions of the consent right up to the year 2000. Even thereafter, it did not strictly comply with the conditions and directions issued by the respective Boards. This unit is a direct source of polluting River Ganga.”
Considering the damage done to the environment and for cleaning of sludge from drain and making river Ganga pollution free, the Tribunal has fixed a compensation of Rs. 5 crores on Simbhaoli Mills to be deposited with UPPCB and this amount shall be used for removal of sludge and all pollutants and preventing ground water pollution.
With respect to Gopalji Dairy, the Tribunal has imposed 25 lakh fine on who was discharging effluents in Syana Escape Canal without any permission.
Legal Initiative for Forest & Environment (LIFE)
N-71, Lower Ground Floor,
NGT - MoEF should notify eco-sensitive areas in the Western Ghats region expeditiously
National Green Tribunal on 25 September 2014 directed MoEF to expeditiously define ‘the eco-sensitive areas in the Western Ghats region and take it to its logical end by issuing final notification’ in the Goa Foundation & others vs Union of India & others (application no. 26 of 2012).
It said, ‘It is for the Ministry to take all the initiatives in relation to defining the eco-sensitive areas in the Western Ghats region and take it to its logical end by issuing final notification. The only pious hope that we express in the order is that the Ministry should act with utmost expeditiousness and ensure that the interests of the States, individuals, and all concerned stakeholders are not jeopardised any longer. The MoEF itself has stated in paragraph-I of its affidavit that directions under section 5 of the Act of 1986 have been issued on 13.11.2013 for providing immediate protection to the Western Ghats to maintain its environmental integrity, which is in force. It will be in the interest of all the stakeholders, including MoEF, that the matters are not further complicated and third party interest are not put into jeopardy that these directions will operate to the entire eco-sensitive area of the Western Ghats and no fresh Environmental Clearance or permissions are issued by the MoEF till it issues the final notification in terms of section-3 of the Act of 1986.
‘Thus, it is now exclusively for the MoEF to determine and decide the rival contentions, and the period for which the restrictions as issued by the MoEF in its order dated 13.11.2013 should remain operative. It is the duty expected of the MoEF to maintain the environmental tranquillity and ecology of the areas under consideration, in the condition as they exist today, and not to allow irreversible alteration of the areas in question by granting Environmental Clearance or permitting activities which would have an adverse impact on the eco-sensitive areas.
‘We may also notice that on behalf of the State of Kerala, it was specifically contended before us that they have already submitted not only their objections but even their physical measurements of the area that could be declared as “eco-sensitive area” and the matter is pending with the MoEF now for a considerable time. All that we can direct is that this matter should also be dealt with by the MoEF with utmost expeditiousness. It will be obviously open to the MoEF to declare the ecologically sensitive areas, State-wise or collectively, for the entire Western Ghats which is relatable to all six the states afore-indicated.’
EIA Resource and Response Centre (ERC)