Rainwater harvesting: SC stays NGT’s penalty of Rs 5 lakhs each on educational institutions

The Supreme Court has stayed an NGT order that imposed an environment compensation of Rs 5 lakhs on educational institutions for their failure to install rainwater harvesting systems

The Supreme Court, on April 8, 2019, stayed a National Green Tribunal (NGT) order imposing a penalty of Rs 5 lakhs each on educational institutions in the national capital, for failing to install rainwater harvesting systems. A bench of justices RF Nariman and Vineet Saran, also issued notices to the original petitioner Mahesh Chandra Saxena, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation and others in the matter and sought their reply. “Issue notice. In the meanwhile, there shall be stay of operation of the impugned order(s) of the National Green Tribunal, principal bench, New Delhi,” the SC bench said.

The top court’s order came on a plea filed by the Delhi government and others, against a January 30 and November 16, 2017 order of the NGT, imposing an environment compensation of Rs 5 lakhs each on educational institutions in the national capital, for failing to install rainwater harvesting systems. The fine was imposed as per the NGT’s November 16, 2017 order, which had said that any institution that fails to install rainwater harvesting systems within two months, would be liable to pay environment compensation of Rs 5 lakhs. Irked at the lackadaisical approach of the officers in complying with their duties, the Tribunal had also imposed a cost of Rs 5,000 each on three officers of the education department.

See also: NGT slaps Rs 10-crore interim penalty on 3 Gurugram builders for violating environmental norms

The Tribunal’s order had come after perusing a status report from the director of education, according to which 424 schools did not have rainwater harvesting system and in 505 schools, installation work was under progress. Similarly, with respect to the colleges under the Directorate of Higher Education, it was submitted that nine institutions did not have rainwater harvesting systems and in case of three institutions, they were said to be under construction, the order had stated. It had further mentioned that with respect to the South Delhi Municipal Corporation, 106 schools did not have rainwater harvesting system, as on date, which also included 21 schools for which it was said that such a system was not feasible and out of the remaining (85), systems in 23 schools was under construction.


NGT notice to Delhi government, over rainwater harvesting systems

A plea alleging that rainwater harvesting systems have not been installed in schools and colleges, despite the National Green Tribunal’s order, has prompted the green panel to seek a response from the Delhi government and others

January 22, 2018: A National Green Tribunal (NGT) bench, headed by acting chairperson justice UD Salvi, has issued notices to the Public Works Department, Directorate of Education, Central Groundwater Authority, Delhi Jal Board and others, while seeking their replies before March 20, 2018.

The tribunal’s direction came on a plea filed by Delhi resident Mahesh Chandra Saxena, seeking implementation of the November 16, 2017 order of the NGT, directing government and private schools and colleges to install rainwater harvesting systems in their premises, within two months at their own cost. He claimed that the government departments, educational institutions and residential societies, have either not installed rainwater harvesting systems, or have systems which are non-functional.

See also: Rainwater harvesting: NGT issues warrant against Delhi Metro MD

The tribunal had ordered that any institution, which fails to install the rainwater harvesting system within the stipulated period, would be liable to pay environment compensation of Rs five lakhs. It had directed schools and colleges to approach a committee constituted by it. The committee was to inspect the premises and grant permission to institutions, for operating the system.

If it was not possible to install a rainwater harvesting system, the institution should approach the committee, it had said. According to the tribunal, the institution that gets an exemption certificate shall be subject to environment compensation, which would be used for setting up rainwater harvesting systems in possible nearby areas, including parks.

 

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