SC partially lifts ban on construction activities in Delhi-NCR, allows it from 6 am to 6 pm

The Supreme Court Monday allowed construction activity in the Delhi-NCR region between 6 am and 6 pm, partially lifting its complete ban on it.

The apex court perused the report filed by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) which said that construction activities should not be allowed between 6 pm to 6 am.

A bench, comprising justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta, was informed by Additional Solicitor General A N S Nadkarni that the Centre has constituted a high-level committee following the apex court’s direction to examine the feasibility of using technology like smog towers to combat air pollution.

The bench also directed the governments of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana to furnish before it the updated report on stubble burning up to December 11.

The top court said it would hear the pollution related matters on December 16.

The court had on November 25 directed the Centre to constitute a high-level committee within three days to consider and work out modalities regarding other technologies to help combat pollution, and said that a report be filed before it within three weeks on this issue.

It had asked the Delhi government to apprise it of the steps taken with regard to anti-smog gun which sprays atomized water 50 metres in the air to bring down pollutants and had said CPCB should be associated on the issue of anti-smog guns.

The court had asked all the states to explain within six weeks as to why they should not be made liable to pay compensation to persons affected by bad air quality saying it is their bounden duty to provide basic civic amenities, clean air and drinking water to citizens.

It had also issued notices to all states seeking various details, including on air quality index (AQI), managing air quality and disposing of garbage.

The court had asked the Centre and the Delhi government to sit together and take decision within 10 days with regard to installation of smog towers in Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR) which would help in combating air pollution.

It had said that “right to life of human is being endangered” by the bad air quality and water pollution and the states have to deal with the situation as “life span is being shortened” due to this.

The apex court also took exception that states and Centre were indulging in “blame game” over crucial issue of air and water pollution and asked them to work in tandem for welfare of the people.

It said despite various orders being passed by the top court from time to time in the pollution matter, the situation has worsened over the years and authorities have to be blamed as they have not performed their duties.

It had termed as “alarming” the situation of stubble burning in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh and said despite its order prohibiting it, burning of crop residues in these states have increased.

The bench pulled up the chief secretaries of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh for their failure to prevent instance of stubble burning despite the apex court’s order.

“Can you treat people like this and permit them to die due to pollution,” the court had asked and said life span of millions of citizens has shortened and people are “suffocating” due to pollution in Delhi-NCR.

The top court had highlighted the problem of “dreaded diseases” like cancer which a large section of people are suffering from due to bad air and water quality.

Only policy making to deal with pollution is not required, the real issue needed was implementation at the ground level, it had said.

NGT: Will examine if alternate landfill sites fall on Yamuna floodplains

The National Green Tribunal today said it would examine. whether the proposed alternate landfill sites at Sonia Vihar and Ghonda Gujran areas here are located on the Yamuna floodplains.

A bench headed by acting NGT Chairperson Justice Jawad Rahim, which did not issue notice on the pleas filed by rebel AAP MLA Kapil Mishra and others, directed them to file a brief note within a week mentioning the grounds on which they were opposing the setting up of the two landfill sites.

“We will examine and consider if the two sites fall on the Yamuna floodplains. We will be considering all the issues,” the bench, also comprising Justice S P Wangdi, observed.

Besides Mishra, AAP spokesperson Dilip Kumar Pandey and others have also sought directions to restrain the DDA from allotting an area of 130 acres at Sonia Vihar and a 50-acre plot at Ghonda Gujran to the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) for handling and processing waste. The sites were proposed as the existing site at Ghazipur was saturated.

The order came after the green panel was informed by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) that a similar matter was pending in the Supreme Court.

Advocate Balendu Shekhar, appearing for EDMC, said Ghazipur landfill site has got saturated and there was an urgent need for an alternate landfill site to avoid any untoward incident.

The lawyer told the bench that land was identified after NGT’s indulgence when a chamber meeting was held where senior DDA officials had assured the tribunal about the availability of these sites.

He said the DDA had granted in principle approval for these sites based on the recommendations of Central Pollution Control Board and National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI).

Advocate Ritwick Dutta, appearing for Mishra, alleged that the EDMC had concealed information that these sites were part of the active floodplain of Yamuna river and fell under the O-Zone as per Master Plan of Delhi, where no development can take place.

He said the two sites were rejected twice by the Principal Committee, formed to see execution of Yamuna cleaning, which had decided that these sites were unsuitable.

The NGT, however, questioned the petitioners and said the issue of landfill sites in the national capital was going on since long and why have they approached it at this juncture.

The matter was listed for next hearing on May 21.

While Mishra had alleged that EDMC has with a “malafide”intention not revealed that these sites are part of the active floodplain of Yamuna river and fell under the O-Zone as per Master Plan of Delhi where no development can take place, the petition filed by Pandey and others had said the project will adversely affect the eco-system of the area as there were several densely populated colonies and villages nearby.

“The entire area being low lying goes under deep waters during monsoon rains and the ground water table being very high, it suffers from aquifer flooding during high floods in river Yamuna. The ground conditions make its development as land fill site not only illegal but also susceptible to flooding risks.

“That with respect to the site in Ghonda Gujran, it can easily be surmised that it is in Zone O, as the site is said to be opposite the Usmanpur Village. And since the only open space opposite the Usmanpur Village is in the active river floodplain in Zone O, clearly the site is most unsuitable and impermissible as per the Siting Criteria under the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 which is statutory in nature,” Mishra had said in his plea.

The plea, filed by Pandey and others, had said the “mindless setting up of a land-fill site adjacent to Yamuna, a natural water resource will be affecting the integrity of the flora and fauna of the water resource, which would affect overall ecology of the area which resulted the bad health condition of the people who are living nearby allotted land”.

It had said the approval given on the basis of recommendations of the Central Pollution Control Board and NEERI is based on wrong facts and it violated the Solid Waste Management Rules 2016.

“Restrain the DDA from allotting the lands in question falling within the active floodplain of River Yamuna, i.e. 130 acres in Sonya Vihar and 50 acres in Ghonda Gujran for the purpose of developing Solid Waste Management facility.

“Impose heavy penalty and direct penal action against officials of EDMC for wilful and deliberate concealment of material facts before this tribunal,” the plea had said.

The DDA had earlier told the tribunal that based on the reports of the CPCB and NEERI and its analysis, an area of 88 acres at Sonia Vihar and a 42.5-acre plot at Ghonda Gujran can be given to the EDMC for handling and processing waste.

NGT asks UP to reply to show cause notice on Discharge of sewage into Ganga

The National Green Tribunal has asked the Uttar Pradesh government to reply within a week why environmental compensation should not be slapped on it for its “intentional” non-compliance of statutory obligations regarding discharge of untreated sewage water into the Ganga.

A bench headed by acting Chairperson Justice Jawad Rahim noted that despite its December 2016 order, the parties have not filed their replies.

“Member Secretary of the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB), Commissioner and Executive Officers, Mayor, Chairman and Head of the municipality and the concerned Secretary of UP to show cause why they be not directed to pay environmental compensation for non-compliance of the directions issue to them earlier.

“Further to show cause why the tribunal should not direct prosecution of all these respondents in accordance with the law,” the bench said while posting the matter for May 16.

While issuing a show cause notice to the state government, the NGT had earlier said “environment and public health does not fall in its priority list” as it was “undisputed” that no action was taken by the UPPCB and municipal bodies to prepare an action plan on cleaning the river.

The UPPCB and municipal bodies of Mirzapur, Chunar, Bhadohi, Fatehpur, and Hastinapur were issued show cause notices asking why environmental compensation should not be imposed on them as they had failed to prepare the plan despite directions issued by the Central Pollution Control Board.

“At this stage, we are satisfied that non-compliance to the directions contained in the order dated October 9, 2015 is intentional and without any sufficient cause. Furthermore, the non-compliance is a matter which has to be viewed seriously. Nothing prevented the respondents – authorities, corporations and bodies to approach the CPCB and put forward their difficulties, if any, and get the same resolved.

“It appears that environment and public health does not fall on priority list of all these respondents. Consequently, we issue notice to show cause to the Member Secretary of UPPCB, Commissioner and Executive Officers, Mayor, Chairman and head of the municipality respondents and Secretary of Uttar Pradesh to show cause why they be not directed to pay environmental compensation for non-compliance of the directions,” the bench had said.

The NGT was hearing a plea of the CPCB seeking directions to the UPPCB and the CEOs of these five municipal councils to “prepare a plan of action to clean river Ganga and water bodies, ground water and soil in a time-bound manner and recover the cost of preparation and execution of such plan of action from the polluters”.

Advocate Balendu Shekhar, appearing for the CPCB, had said the respondents (UPPCB and five municipal councils) had failed to provide adequate sewage network and install sewage treatment plants for effective treatment of sewage discharged into the river.

National Green Tribunal directs CPCB to submit report on Anpara thermal power plant

The National Green Tribunal has directed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to submit report on the emission standards of the Anpara thermal power plant located at Sonbhadra district in Uttar Pradesh.

A bench headed by Justice Jawad Rahim reteirated its earlier direction and asked the apex pollution monitoring body to file the report by April 12.

The green panel also directed the chief general manager of the power plant to be present before it after noting that there was no record of his presence on the earlier date.

“We reiterate the directions of our order dated December 7, 2017 and call upon the CPCB to file its report and we again direct Chief General Manager of the said plant to be present. We make it clear that the report shall be filed by CPCB within one week after serving copy on the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change,” the panel said.

The tribunal had earlier noted that Anpara thermal plant in Sonabhadra district of UP was found to be worst amongst all the other thermal power plants in the state in terms of emission standards.

It had earlier directed the CPCB to inspect sites where thermal power plants were discharging effluents in the Ganga basin or pay Rs one lakh as fine.

The tribunal had asked the counsel for the CPCB to physically examine the sites where thermal power plants are located in the first phase of Ganga cleansing project between Gomukh and Haridwar.

The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by NGO, Indian Council for Enviro Legal Action, seeking regulation of thermal power plants located in the Ganga river basin.

The plea had also sought directions to ensure that fly ash is not released into the Ganga river or its tributaries.

It had alleged that there were more than 25-year-old power plants, which were not technologically advanced and were polluting the river.

Can you differentiate between human, bird excreta: NGT to CPCB

Can you differentiate between human, bird excreta: NGT to CPCB
Can you differentiate between human, bird excreta: NGT to CPCB

The National Green Tribunal today directed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to take a clear stand whether it can differentiate between human excreta and bird poop after a retired army officer approached it alleging that faeces were splattered from aircraft on his South Delhi house before Diwali.

Aviation regulator DGCA maintained that it was impossible to dump human waste mid-air from aircraft toilet and that bird droppings had landed on the complainant’s house, after which the green panel had ordered testing of the excreta samples.

During the hearing, the counsel for the CPCB told the NGT that they don’t have equipment to test whether the excreta sample, taken from ex-army officer’s house, belongs to human or bird.

Earlier, the CPCB had said that there were traces of faecal coliform in the samples, indicating presence of human waste.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar today rapped the apex pollution monitoring body over changing its stand on whether it can differentiate between human and bird excreta and asked it to seek clear instructions on the issue.

“It is surprising that CPCB being such a big organisation does not have sufficient equipments to test whether it is human excreta or bird. CPCB would take clear instructions whether it is fully equipped to determine the contents of the excreta,” the bench said.

It was hearing a plea of Lt Gen (Retd) Satwant Singh Dahiya who has sought action against the airlines and levy of hefty fines on them for endangering the health of residents

The counsel appearing for the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), however, said that it was impossible to empty the waste tanks of the aircraft mid-air.

He told the bench that there was a manual system by which the human waste tank is emptied after the flight lands and by no means the cabin crew can operate the tank during the flight.

Responding to the submissions, Dahiya alleged that there was fresh incident of human waste dumping at his house in Vasant Enclave here after which he called the DGCA and the CPC, who took samples from the location.

The matter will be heard tomorrow.

The NGT had asked the aviation watchdog to issue a circular making it clear that aircraft would be subjected to surprise inspection to check whether these tanks are empty or not.

It had last year held that if “any aircraft, airlines and the handling services of registered aircraft” were found to be dumping human waste in air or toilet tanks were found to have been emptied before landing, they shall be subjected to environmental compensation of Rs 50,000 per case of default.

The NGT had also asked the DGCA to carry out surprise inspection of aircraft landing at the airport to check that their toilet tanks are not empty while landing and prevent waste from being splashed over residential areas and any other place before landing.

( Source – PTI )

Pollution in poultry farms: NGT notice to Centre

Pollution in poultry farms: NGT notice to Centre
Pollution in poultry farms: NGT notice to Centre

A plea highlighting environmental pollution caused by the improper waste disposal and unregulated use of antibiotics in poultry farms has prompted the National Green Tribunal to seek a response from the Centre and others.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar issued notices to the Ministry of Environment and Forests Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation and Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and sought their reply in three weeks.

The matter was listed for hearing on January 9 next year.

The tribunal was hearing the plea filed by animal activist Gauri Maulekhi seeking quashing of the CPCB’s 2015 guidelines exempting commercial poultry farms from the provisions of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act and delegating the power to local authorities.

As per the guidelines, farms which have more than one lakh birds are required to take clearance under the section 25 of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, while poultries with 5,000 birds have to register themselves with the local authorities.

The plea claimed that the poultry farms caused extensive pollution in the surrounding areas as they have thousand of birds in intensive confinement, resulting in huge accumulation of waste.

“This huge quantum of waste is seldom disposed scientifically. The poultries impact the ecology and the living of those who surround the farm. Pests which are attracted to the farms make it difficult for the people living in the vicinity.

“In order to keep thousands of birds alive in such intensive confinement and unclean surroundings it becomes important to administer non-therapeutic antibiotics on a regular basis. The administration of these antibiotics adversely affects the health of those who live around the farms and those who consume the birds or eggs,” the plea said.

It has also sought directions to regulate the use of antibiotics in the poultry farms so that these drugs are not administered indiscriminately.

( Source – PTI )

SC reserves verdict on plea to restore ban on firecracker sale

SC reserves verdict on plea to restore ban on firecracker sale
SC reserves verdict on plea to restore ban on firecracker sale

The Supreme Court today reserved its verdict on a plea seeking restoration of its last year’s order banning the sale of firecrackers in Delhi-National Capital Region.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) supported the plea before a bench headed by Justice A K Sikri and said the November 11, 2016, order should be restored and the use of firecrackers banned in Delhi-NCR.

The apex court had through this order suspended all licences which permitted wholesale and retail sale of firecrackers within the territory of NCR.

On September 12 this year, the top court had temporarily lifted the earlier order.

During the hearing, advocate Gopal Shankarnarayanan, appearing for petitioner Arjun Gopal, told the bench that the ban on use of firecrackers should be restored as the NCR had witnessed huge rise in air pollution during and after Diwali last year.

He said the rise in air pollution during last Diwali was because of several reasons including the extensive use of firecrackers.

Advocate Vijay Panjwani, appearing for the CPCB, said they supported the petitioner’s plea. “I am not opposing the petitioner,” he said, adding “the November 11, 2016 order must be restored”.

The counsel, appearing for the permanent licencees selling crackers, opposed the plea and said the September 12 order temporarily lifting the ban, was “well-reasoned” and passed after hearing all the parties, including the CPCB.

The bench, while reserving the order, said it would try to deliver the verdict on Monday.

It had yesterday observed that the matter had “progressed from time to time” after the order was passed in November last year.

The apex court had last month temporarily lifted its earlier order suspending licences for sale of fire crackers, saying a complete ban would be an “extreme step” and a graded approach was needed to curb pollution caused by them.

The court, however, had said its order lifting the ban on sale of fire crackers might require a “review” after Diwali depending on the ambient air quality after the festival.

( Source – PTI )

SC asks CPCB, states to prepare plan to check pollution

SC asks CPCB, states to prepare plan to check pollution
SC asks CPCB, states to prepare plan to check pollution

The Supreme Court today asked CPCB, Delhi government, EPCA, Haryana, UP and Rajasthan to hold a meeting within two weeks and come out with a comprehensive plan to check pollution in the national capital.

A bench headed by Justice M B Lokur also asked the Centre to implement the ban in four weeks on furnace oil and Petcoke used by industries in the NCR region, terming it as a single biggest source of pollution in Delhi.

The bench also comprising Justice P C Pant also granted nod to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to withdraw Rs 2.50 crore from Environment Compensation Charge (ECC) fund created on direction of apex court.

The apex court directed CPCB that Rs 2.5 crore should be used for purchasing equipment for real time air quality monitoring stations being set up in Delhi and NCR.

It also directed Environment Pollution Control Authority to inspect the Pollution Under Check (PUC) centres in NCR region also.

( Source – PTI )

NGT asks Delhi government to for report on quality of water

The National Green Tribunal has directed the Delhi government to submit a complete and comprehensive report on quality and quantity of water that is being supplied to end users at various localities of the national capital on random sample basis.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar asked the committee comprising environment secretary of the Delhi government, representatives from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the Delhi Jal Board (DJB), the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) and the municipal corporations to file the report before February 13.

“In the meanwhile, the NCT of Delhi would file a complete and comprehensive report which must be self-contained and comply with directions issued by the tribunal,” the bench said.

The tribunal had earlier taken exception to non-submission of a status report on quality of water supplied to households in the national capital by the Delhi government despite repeated directions.

Noting that not even a single report has been filed till date, the bench had summoned the environment secretary of the Delhi government with the report.

The issue of water supply in the capital had last year prompted the tribunal to seek the response of the city government in the matter.

The green panel had taken suo motu cognisance of a newspaper report, which had revealed that the “stinking and dirty” water flowing through water supply lines and the borewells were pumping out contaminated water.

Later, it had constituted a committee comprising the environment secretary and representatives from CPCB, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee, DJB, and all municipal corporations and asked them to submit a complete and comprehensive report.

“This committee shall examine and get the areas identified where the ground water is contaminated as well as the directions that should be passed, whether prohibitory or precautionary, ensuring that it is not permitted to be extracted and in any case not distributed for human consumption…

“The committee will ensure that samples of the water from different areas are collected, analysed and reports be placed before it before submission of the final report,” it had said.

Submit report on fuel adulteration in 4 weeks: NGT

Submit report on fuel adulteration in 4 weeks: NGT
Submit report on fuel adulteration in 4 weeks: NGT

The National Green Tribunal has directed Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, which was directed to check adulteration of petrol and diesel at petrol pumps across Delhi-NCR, to submit its report on the issue within four weeks.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar slammed the ministry for delay in submitting analysis report and refused to grant two months time sought by the department.

The tribunal had constituted a committee comprising officials from Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Ministry of Petroleum and Gas and state pollution control boards to conduct joint inspection at any 10 petrol pumps and analyse fuel samples in the laboratory of the state boards and CPCB.

“Why have you not filed the report? We see no reason why the analysis could not be done in time. Let the entire analysis be completed within four weeks and the analysis report be filed within one week thereafter,” the bench said.

It also warned that in the event of default of the orders the members of the committee would be present before it and posted the matter for next hearing on September 2.

During the hearing, the counsel appearing for Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas told the bench that it received an email on July 22 seeking further time of two months.

The green panel had earlier directed authorities to carry out surprise inspection of 50 two and four-wheelers in Delhi-NCR to ascertain their emission levels.

The directions came while hearing a plea filed by Delhi resident Cherub Singla seeking directions to inspect the fuel quality at petrol pumps across the country, especially in cities facing acute air pollution.

Singla had contended that fuel adulteration increases the emission of total hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter and thus adds to air pollution.

(Source : PTI)