The National Green Tribunal on January 7, 2020, directed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to obtain information from chief secretaries on solid waste management, restoration of polluted river stretches and air quality management in states and Union territories.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said the nature and extent of information submitted by the CPCB is not complete and available information with regard to sewage generation and treatment shows huge gap.
“Grading made by the CPCB into ‘good’, ‘average’, ‘poor’ and ‘no information’ is not based on any qualitative analysis but extent of information furnished,” the bench said.
On the issue of solid waste management, the tribunal said the information is required with regard to the quantity of municipal solid waste generated, segregated and treated and quantity of legacy waste. With regard to restoration of 351 polluted river stretches, the NGT said the states need to furnish information about the compliance of directions, including in-situ and ex-situ remediation by way of phytoremediation/artificial wetlands, bio-diversity parks to reduce load on rivers.
“Chief secretaries need to monitor and compile information on the subject of execution of action plans for containment of air pollution in 122 cities, where air quality is not within permissible limits, in terms of orders of this tribunal and furnish the quantifiable progress/achievement to the CPCB,” the bench said.
Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) management is one of the most serious challenges to environment protection and although Solid Waste Management Rules have been framed in 2016, their implementation remains a problem, the tribunal had said.
The NGT had earlier noted that as per CPCB data, there are more than 4,000 legacy waste dump sites which needs immediate remediation under the rules and orders of the NGT having regard to harmful impacts on environment and public health.
“Besides, this will unlock the land occupied by such waste sites which is urgently required for setting up of integrated waste management and processing facilities or for afforestation/green belts/bio-diversity parks/buffer zones in accordance with the environmental laws. If necessary, a part of the land could be monetised if so decided by the state governments concerned,” the NGT had said.
Over 60 per cent of urban India’s sewage enters water bodies untreated: NGT
Stating that more than 60 per cent of urban sewage enters water bodies untreated, the National Green Tribunal has called for stern action against polluters and regulatory authorities, for their inaction
Update on Feb 6, 2019: More than 60 per cent of sewage generated by urban India is untreated and enters water bodies like rivers, resulting in pollution and making it unfit for human consumption, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has said. The green panel said it is a matter of serious concern that compliance of environment norms is not satisfactory and results in large scale deaths and diseases and serious damage to air, water and earth.
The observations were made by the tribunal on February 4, 2019, while hearing a plea filed by V Manickam, alleging pollution of Thirumanimuthar river in Tamil Nadu, due to discharge of effluents by industries and release of municipal sewage. The tribunal directed the Salem Municipal Corporation to deposit an interim compensation of Rs 25 lakhs with the Central Pollution Control Board within a month, for the damage already caused to the environment. “The Salem Municipal Corporation may also furnish a performance guarantee to the satisfaction of the CPCB in the sum of Rs 50 lakhs, to the effect that the untreated effluents will not be discharged and necessary steps to prevent such discharge will be taken positively within three months, failing which the amount of performance guarantee will be forfeited,” the tribunal said.
To ascertain its present status, the tribunal also directed a joint inspection by a team, comprising of representatives of the CPCB and the state pollution control board and asked them to submit a report within a month. “Responsibility for compliance of this order will be of the commissioner of Salem Municipal Corporation. In case of non-deposit, the commissioner of Salem Municipal Corporation must remain present in person on the next date,” the tribunal said, while posting the matter for hearing on April 10, 2019.
The NGT said in spite of statutory framework and binding legal precedents, violation of law was rampant and therefore, a stern approach was necessary against polluters for pollution, as well as the regulatory authorities for their failure and inaction to perform timely duties.
“Environment degradation severely affects human health, requiring immediate attention and cannot be dealt with by authorities at leisure. Statutory authorities are trustees of the people and if their failure results in harm to the citizens and environment, the tribunal has to adopt a strict approach to make them accountable, so that such action acts as deterrent to prevent further harm,” the bench, also comprising justices SP Wangdi and K Ramakrishnan, said.