NGT asks authorities to ensure no illegal sand mining is carried out in UP’s Shamli district

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed authorities in Uttar Pradesh’s Shamli district to ensure that no illegal sand mining is carried out in the area.

The orders came after the Shamli District Magistrate told the tribunal that the illegal mining activity being carried out by a private lease holder has already been stopped and the temporary bridge made by him has also been removed.

The green panel said that since illegal sand mining by project proponent has been suspended, it may be ensured that no illegal mining is done by anyone else in the district.

The green panel also noted that a cumulative environmental compensation of Rs 20.45 lakh has been assessed to be imposed on the sand miner for non-compliance of environment clearance conditions and for not seeking required consent from the state pollution control board under the notified provisions.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel also sought a report in this regard by the Principal Secretary, Environment, UP after coordination with the concerned authorities within two months.

Noting the submissions, the tribunal directed that further action should be taken in accordance with law after considering the viewpoint of the project proponent.

“It will be open to the authorities to asses and recover further compensation in accordance with law. The basis of compensation may be indicated in the report.

“Since, we are informed that mining by project proponent has been suspended, it may be ensured that no illegal mining is done by anyone else which may be ensured by the District Magistrate, Shamli, SEIAA, UP and state pollution control board,” the tribunal said in a recent order.

The NGT was hearing a plea filed by Sandeep Kharb against the illegal sand mining in the district in violation of Sustainable Sand Mining Management Guidelines, 2016 issued by Ministry of Environment and Forests.

The petitioner also referred to tribunal’s direction to Haryana and Uttar Pradesh that no mechanical mining be permitted on the river beds at any place.

Court Makes it Mandatory for Accused to Plant 5 Saplings to Get Bail

A Banda court has said that it will grant bail to a person accused of creating nuisance on condition that they will have to plant 5 saplings.

The clause is an addition to the existing punishment prescribed under the law.

“People are appreciating it & following the orders. The accused are granted bail after they submit photos of the saplings being planted by them to the court every month for the next 6 months,” said Vandita Srivastava, Sub-District Magistrate (SDM).

In the last 15 days, the Sub-District Magistrate (SDM) court has directed over 500 accused to plant the saplings.

“I have not amended any provisions of the law, but simply added a necessary condition to avail the bail,” Srivastava said.

Appreciating her work, the District Magistrate (DM) has now directed every court in the Banda district to take up the initiative.

HC Seeks Details of Action Taken Against Plastic Ban Violators

The Telangana HC on Thursday sought to know within 24 hours from the authorities the details of penal action they took on those who were violating the norms related to plastic use. The bench of chief justice Raghavendra Singh Chauhan & Justice Abhishek Reddy was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) that wanted the rules to be implemented effectively in view of the ongoing Ganesha idols sale.

All the traders are wrapping the idols with huge plastic covers which are less than permitted thickness of the plastic covers, the petitioner said. By the end of the Ganesh festival there would be huge plastic waste which would pose an environmental hazard, he said.

The CJ bench directed the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) to furnish data pertaining to the action taken by them on manufacturers & traders for violating the norms related to plastic use. In how many cases you have imposed penalty etc details. The case will be heard basing on the data tomorrow. Pollution Control Board (PCB) was directed to furnish the details by Friday. The case will be heard again on Friday.

Man Moves HC, Wants no Plastic Veil on Ganesh Idols

Stating that plastic ban is a misnomer, a public interest litigation (PIL) plea was filed in the Telangana HC on Wednesday urging it to ensure its effective implementation during Ganesh Chathurthi where a large number of plastic covers are used to cover the idols.

Petitioner’s counsel Kowturu Pavan Kumar made a mention before a bench of Chief Justice (CJ) Raghavendra Singh Chauhan & Justice Abhishek Reddy & requested them to take up the case immediately as Ganesh festivities begin in 4 days. He also said traders are selling Ganesh idols , both big & small, wrapped in plastic covers. Lakhs of such covers are an environmental hazard & would adversely affect public health & pose a serious threat to animals, which can die after consuming the plastic material. The bench said the case would be heard on Thursday.

The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed by YV Murali Krishna, who urged the HC to direct the authorities concerned to initiate a strong action against persons using plastic wrappings on Ganesh idols. He also wanted a declaration from the HC that the inaction of the authorities is illegal.

“These idols are sold at unregulated open markets on roadside where plastic usage has become common,” he said. Thousands of associations & individuals buy these idols & shift them to pandals. “All the idols are wrapped in plastic covers whose density is far below the admissible micron strength. Plastic wastage generated out of this is massive,” Krishna contended.

He said the usage of plastic wrappings wasn’t necessary but it has become a norm since the authorities concerned have turned a blind eye. While the Ganesh idol symbolises nature, the plastic wrappings are causing an irreversible damage to the nature & environment, he contended.

Give unique ID numbers to water bodies: NGT panel

Land owning agencies must ensure prevention of encroachments of water bodies in the city and unique ID numbers should be given to them for identification, a monitoring committee has told the National Green Tribunal.

The committee led by a former high court judge told a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel that the water bodies should be secured by constructing boundary walls and relevant entries in the revenue records.

“The government agencies should on priority start mapping of small water bodies on GPS platform, monitoring the water quality, penalising the defaulters and putting high values on these water bodies and give proper weight-age for their protection. Action shall be taken against the trespassers,” the panel has told the NGT.

“The agencies shall have exclusive dedicated staff to take care of the water bodies. DJB has recently designated Rakesh Sahni as SE (Water Bodies). The monitoring committee shall ensure that there is co-ordination between different agencies for better management of water bodies,” the panel said.

The committee, headed by former high court judge Justice S P Garg, told the tribunal that new water bodies are being taken up for revival from time to time on the basis of information given by activists or newspaper clippings.

“The monitoring committee has visited remote areas/villages to have first hand information about the condition of the water bodies which mostly are lying dry.

“There is awareness among the people now and the monitoring committee is getting several requests to visit the neglected water bodies for their revival. Our attention has been drawn recently towards water bodies at Tihar Jheel (Hari Nagar), Prasad Nagar Lake and Tuglakabad Lake,” it said.

The monitoring committee has already visited two of them and plans to visit the other ones shortly. Necessary steps are being taken to improve the condition of these water bodies, it said.

The panel said that lakes and ponds are victims of ‘Eutrophication’.

Eutrophication is when a water body becomes overly enriched with minerals and nutrients which induce excessive growth of algae.

“Eutrophication results in the prolific growth of aquatic weeds in lakes and ponds that ultimately disturb and kill the ecology of the water body. The emphasis will be upon the concerned agencies to clear the weeds in time,” the panel said.

The committee further said that during field visits it noticed that polythene, plastic bottles and other material was frequently dumped or thrown in the lakes by the visitors.

The panel said the authorities concerned shall be directed to install CCTV camera at prominent places to have vigil upon the polluters. Sign boards or banners prohibiting throwing of waste shall be put up near the lakes warning the polluters of legal action in case of violation.

“At big lakes, security guards can be deployed to prevent littering. MCD and DJB have courts of Special Metropolitan Magistrates for trail of offenses. Prosecution branch of MCD/DJB shall be activated to prosecute individuals who cause littering in the water bodies,” it said.

AAP govt’s free water scheme being misused by several housing societies: NGT panel

The AAP government’s scheme of providing 20,000 litres of water each month free of cost to every household in the national capital is being misused by several housing societies, a monitoring committee has told the National Green Tribunal.

The committee led by a former high court judge told a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel that after availing 20,000 litres free of cost, these societies start extracting groundwater.

“The extraction of groundwater by using tube-wells/bore-wells is being done to avoid payment of water tariff. The Delhi Jal Board (DJB) should take effective steps to prevent this practice,” the panel has told the NGT.

Earlier this year, the AAP government had told the Delhi Assembly that around 20,000 litres of free water each month was provided across the national capital by using nearly Rs 400 crore, benefitting 5.3 lakh consumers through the water subsidy scheme.

In contrast to the committee’s finding, the AAP government had also said that the scheme also led to an increase in water conservation as consumers reduced consumption to avail benefit of the scheme and also led to increase in number of functional water meters.

The committee, which submitted its report in NGT, is headed by Justice S P Garg (retd) and also comprises representative each from the DJB, Central Pollution Control Board, Central Ground Water Authority and the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) concerned.

The panel has also recommended that to prevent wastage and misuse of water, ‘polluter pays’ principle should to be used for those who violate various provisions of air and water Acts.

“The monitoring committee is of the considered view that for judicious use of water and to prevent its wastage, at the time of sanction of water connection, on the analogy of electricity connection, the consumer should be asked to declare probable consumption of water.

“In case water consumption is highly excessive, the consumer should be charged with higher tariffs for overuse. ‘Use More Pay More’ and ‘More the Consumption Higher the Tariff’ principle should be adopted to discourage wastage. There should be efficient and adequate metering of the water consumed,” the report filed by the panel said.

Plea against Essar Power MP on fly ash leak; NGT directs petitioner to approach its panel

The NGT Tuesday directed an advocate to approach an oversight committee with his plea seeking action against Essar Power MP Ltd for allegedly damaging crops and environment as fly ash leaked from its power plant in Singrauli.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel asked advocate Ashwani Kumar Dubey to apprise the committee, headed by Justice (retired) Rajesh Kumar, on the issue.

The committee also comprises chief secretaries of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, member secretaries of state pollution control boards and district magistrates.

Dubey has sought direction to the company to remove the fly ash, bottom ash, toxic water and other solid wastes from the houses, wells, water bodies, existing crops, agricultural lands of the farmers and to pay damages to the affected persons.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) last year formed the committee to submit an action plan to ensure compliance of its directions in dealing with air and water pollution in Singrauli and Sonebhadra districts of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh respectively.

The plea has also sought direction to Essar Power to stop the operation and generation of fly ash, bottom ash, industrial/solid waste, toxic with immediate effect.

The Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board (MPPCB) on August 14 had sought an interim compensation of Rs 10 crore from Essar Power MP Ltd for the damage caused to the environment.

The plea said that on August 7 night, huge quantity of fly ash, bottom ash, toxic water and industrial/solid waste entered in the agricultural lands, water bodies, wells and houses of the people residing in village Karsualal, Bandhora, Khairahi and other nearby villages.

He said industrial waste also damaged the existing crops, cattle, and affected the children and people residing nearby, the plea said.

“Due to the same the water has become contaminated and agricultural fields have become unfertile. Houses of the people residing near the industry of Essar Power MP Ltd have been damaged. The children were also trapped due to the sudden breach of ash dyke and later they were rescued. The national, local newspapers and electronic media have reported the said incident,” the plea said

The petition claimed that toxic residue from the power plant spilled into a radius of 5 km, causing panic in the local residents.

“It is submitted that emergency like situation has been arisen in the area and the Essar Power MP Ltd in support of local administration has started making a blame-game story instead of clearing the said toxic waste which has extensively spilled on to the agricultural fields, water bodies and have caused and is causing severe damage to the existing crops,” the plea said.

NGT directs DPCC, Delhi civic bodies to submit report on unregulated slaughter of pigs

The National Green Tribunal has directed the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) and the city’s municipal corporations to submit a report on a plea alleging pollution caused by unregulated slaughter of pigs.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel on Thursday sought a factual and action taken report from DPCC, and New Delhi, South Delhi, East Delhi and North Delhi municipal corporations within a month.

The DPCC will be the nodal agency for coordination and compliance, the NGT said.

The tribunal’s order came on a plea filed by city resident Pramod Bahadur and a religious outfit, Ojasvi Party, against pollution caused on account of unregulated slaughter of pigs.

According to the applicants, 2,000-5,000 pigs are slaughtered in a day without specific and dedicated place and in the process 25,000 litres of toxic blood is released into the Yamuna river.

The applicants referred to Section 7 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, and Rule 3 of the rules framed thereunder, prohibiting discharge of pollution beyond the prescribed norms.

They said unchecked slaughtering has potential of causing diseases and sought direction to set up a slaughter house.

The tribunal said the only issue which it would consider is whether there is a need to check unscientific discharge of blood and carcasses of slaughtered animals in violation of environmental norms.

The matter is posted for next hearing on October 18.

Government initiative for speedy disposal: 22 courts to ease burden on judiciary

The move will create a business-friendly environment and improve the city’s ease-of-doing-business rank, government sources say. The matter has been placed before the cabinet and a decision is likely soon.

Nearly 89,000 civil cases are pending with 59 subordinate courts in the city. These are apart from the 15,000-odd commercial cases. Courts handling civil matters, including commercial cases, are already saddled with a huge number of cases. “Considering the complex nature of commercial cases and the statutory timelines to be adhered to, there should not be more than 200-250 cases in a commercial court. Thus, as per the current pendency of cases, not less than 60 commercial courts are required,” a source said.

The law department of Delhi government has prepared a proposal for the creation of 22 posts of judges for subordinate courts and ancillary staff for new commercial courts. The creation of these courts is governed by the Commercial Courts Act, 2015.

Earlier this year, Delhi high court had asked the city government to create 22 posts of higher judicial services at the district judge level for establishing commercial courts. In March, HC wrote to the government for creation of posts for 22 judges and 24 each for senior judicial assistants, senior personal assistants and personal assistants, among other staff. The matter was taken up for hearing in Delhi HC recently.

Following the recommendation of the administrative reforms department, the finance department gave its approval to the proposal, but stated that the posts of 48 peons be outsourced.

The courts will be established in different districts to give access to citizens from across Delhi. Commercial courts have been functional in Delhi HC for some time to ensure speedy disposal of commercial disputes. The commercial benches were started in Delhi and Bombay high courts because these two cities have maximum commercial activity and, resultantly, a large number of disputes.

HC to Delhi government : Fix Problem of Stray Cattle: HC to Delhi government

The plight of stray cattle along with the threat they pose to city motorists has made Delhi high court take up the matter on an urgent basis.

Reviving a long pending petition on illegal dairies & stray cattle wandering the streets, the HC has asked chief secretary of Delhi government to take immediate measures.

A bench of justices G S Sistani & Jyoti Singh, in a recent order, directed the government to take stock of the problem of stray cattle & address it within a fixed time frame, “keeping the urgency & objective in mind & not to postpone or defer the issue.”

The court noted that its intervention is needed not only for the rights of animals, but also to safeguard the rights of the citizen. It underlined that “stray cattle on road lead to traffic problems & more often than not, two-wheelers face the brunt. Especially at night, the chances of accidents are higher, along with the possibility of injury to the cattle.”

HC further observed that when cattle are left stray on the roads or are not kept in proper hygienic conditions in dairies, insanitary conditions & diseases rise. This may worsen during the monsoon as chances of waterborne diseases also go up.

The bench made it clear that the government, civic agencies & other departments must take “serious steps so that the citizens can live in a cleaner city & the cattle be kept in hygienic conditions & are better looked after. The roads will undoubtedly be free of obstruction & traffic jams & the accidents would be minimised.”

The court directions came while hearing a batch of petitions, including one by activist Gauri Maulekhi, highlighting that stray cattle roaming the city streets for want of food sometimes end up consuming garbage, which has harmful materials, including plastic. Another plea raised the issue of illegal dairies running in parts of the city & wanted HC’s directions to close them so that the cattle are impounded & rehabilitated in government-run cattle sheds.

Last year HC had ordered the chief secretary to meet decision makers of Delhi Development Authority, Animal Husbandry Department, Urban Development Department, the three municipal corporations of Delhi & other stakeholders to chalk out a plan to remove the stray cattle.

The court said it intends to monitor progress by the authorities on this front & asked the CS to call a meeting where timelines can be fixed to solve the issues flagged by HC & the petitioners. It also ordered that Maulekhi be made a part of the deliberations.