States to frame rules for appointments in pollution boards: SC

States to frame rules for appointments in pollution boards: SC
States to frame rules for appointments in pollution boards: SC

The Supreme Court today directed all state governments to frame guidelines or recruitment rules within six months for appointment of suitable professionals in the State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs).

It set aside the August 24, 2016, order of National Green Tribunal (NGT) directing the state governments to reconsider the appointments and laying down guidelines for appointments in SPCBs, saying it exceeded its jurisdiction.

A bench of Justices M B Lokur and Deepak Gupta also granted liberty to “public spirited individuals” to move the concerned High Court, if any person who does not meet the statutory or constitutional requirements was appointed as the Chairperson or a member of any SPCB or was currently continuing in such posts.

“We are of the view that it would be appropriate, while setting aside the judgment and order of the NGT, to direct the executive in all the States to frame appropriate guidelines or recruitment rules within six months, … and ensure that suitable professionals and experts are appointed to the SPCBs,” the bench said.

It said that the concern was not lack of professional expertise as there was plenty available in the country, but lack of “dedication and willingness to take advantage of the resources available and instead benefit someone close to the powers that be”.

“With this couldn’t-care-less attitude, the environment and public trust are the immediate casualties. It is unlikely that with such an attitude, any substantive effort can be made to tackle the issues of environment degradation and issues of pollution”, the bench said.

Observing that though the NGT was faced with the same situation, the court said it appreciated the tribunal’s frustration over the scant regard for the law by some state governments, but it was still necessary to exercise restraint.

The bench said that “unfortunately” despite suggestions, recommendations and guidelines the SPCBs continue to be manned by “persons who do not necessarily have the necessary expertise or professional experience to address the issues for which the SPCBs were established by law”.

The court said that apart from the central government, several authorities and committees constituted since 1984, have applied their mind to the issue of appointment of members of the SPCBs.

“All these suggestions and recommendations are more than enough for making expert and professional appointments to the SPCBs being geared towards establishing a professional body with multifarious tasks intended to preserve and protect the environment and consisting of experts,” it said.

Justice Lokur who penned down the verdict for the bench said that any contrary view or compromise in the appointments would render the exercise undertaken by all these committees completely irrelevant and redundant.

“While it is beyond the jurisdiction of the NGT and also beyond our jurisdiction to lay down specific rules and guidelines for recruitment of the Chairperson and members of the SPCBs, we are of opinion that there should be considerable deliberation before an appointment is made and only the best should be appointed to the SPCB,” the bench said.

The court, however, cautioned that the state governments do not have “unlimited discretion” or power to appoint anybody that it chooses to do.

Referring to the direction of NGT for issuing guidelines for appointment of officials in SPCBs, the bench said “it is for each State Government to consider and decide what is the right thing to do under the circumstances should an unqualified or inexperienced person be appointed or should the SPCB be a representative but expert body?”

The bench, however, clarified that those officials who were removed pursuant to the order of the NGT, have an independent cause of action and they can challenge their removal in appropriate and independent proceedings.

“This is an issue between the removed official and the State Government – the removal is not a public interest issue and we cannot reverse the situation,” the bench said in a verdict on a batch of appeals against the verdict of green panel.

The apex court however agreed with the NGT’s view that appointments in SPCBs, should not be made casually or without due application of mind, considering the duties, functions and responsibilities of these boards.

“There can be no doubt that protection and preservation of the environment is extremely vital for all of us and unless this responsibility is taken very seriously, particularly by the State Governments and the SPCBs, we are inviting trouble that will have adverse consequences for future generations,” it said.

( Source – PTI )

Citizens need to learn to keep their city clean: Delhi HC

Citizens need to learn to keep their city clean: Delhi HC
Citizens need to learn to keep their city clean: Delhi HC

The citizens of the national capital need to learn to keep their city clean, the Delhi High Court today said while asking the civic bodies to fix a schedule for collection and disposal of garbage.

“The citizens of the national capital should also have some responsibility. They should also learn about keeping their city clean,” a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar observed.

It said the residents should know how to store the garbage till the scheduled time for depositing it at the designated area.

“In foreign countries, the garbage vans come once a week.

There the residents are patient enough to hold back the garbage,” it said, adding that the issue of garbage disposal and collection should be taken care of on “war footing”.

It asked all the three municipal corporations to start a pilot project of collecting and depositing of garbage as per a fixed time schedule.

“If the time is fixed, the people will also have to abide by it,” the bench remarked and said “we want to see that the citizens, who are the sufferers, also learn about keeping their own city clean”.

It had earlier issued directions regarding creation of public awareness regarding collection and disposal of waste, saying no long-term plan for making and keeping the city clean would work without the participation of the citizens.

The bench also suggested that the people violating the norms should be challaned.

It said the MCDs should put technologies in place so that the safai karamchaaris perform their duty.

This was suggested by the bench, which has been regularly monitoring the issue of garbage removal and disposal from the city after it was told that lack of cleanliness also leads to spread of vector-borne diseases like dengue, chikungunya and malaria.

The issue of garbage cropped up during the hearing of two PILs by lawyers Arpit Bhargava and Gauri Grover who have sought directions to the municipal bodies and other authorities to take steps to prevent spread of vector borne diseases like dengue, chikungunya and malaria.

During the hearing, the bench again directed the civic bodies that the location and time-wise work roster as well as the identity of each cleaning staff or ‘safai karamchaari’ should be put up on the websites of the three corporations.

On this, Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, who had appeared for one of the municipal corporation, submitted that the ward-wise particulars of the regular safai karamchaaris will be uploaded by August 31.

The bench then said the authorities should put an end to this issue forever and prepare a road map so that the court need not interfere in the functioning of the civic bodies and other agencies.

The court sought a report, including a plan to resolve the garbage issue, from the authorities and fixed the matter for further hearing on August 2.

Earlier, the bench had directed the Commissioners of the three municipal corporations of Delhi (MCDs) to monitor the attendance of the cleaning staff and to frame a proposal for ensuring they discharge their duties.

( Source – PTI )

NGT allows registration of vehicles for maintenance of sewer

NGT allows registration of vehicles for maintenance of sewer
NGT allows registration of vehicles for maintenance of sewer

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Delhi government to register two new diesel vehicles, conforming to BS-IV norms, for maintenance of sewer system.

A bench, headed by Justice Sonam Phintso Wangdi, granted the relief on similar terms and conditions which were imposed by the NGT in its May 31 order in which it had directed the government to register 45 new diesel vehicles for garbage management.

While allowing the request for registration of vehicles moved on behalf of Delhi Jal Board, the bench said, “We have heard the counsel appearing for the applicant and also perused the application…and we are satisfied that the applicant is entitled to the prayer made in the application.

“The application is allowed granting permission to get their two BS-IV compliant vehicles registered to be strictly used on behalf of Delhi Jal Board,” it said.

The tribunal had passed the May 31 order on applications moved by East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) and South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), which had sought permission to buy 45 vehicles for garbage management as registration of new diesel vehicles above 2000cc is banned in Delhi.

The green panel also noted that in the May 31 order, the bench had clarified that these vehicles would be used strictly for transportation of municipal and other allied waste to be dumping site only.

The tribunal had earlier asked the municipal corporations to “condemn and dismantle” vehicles which were over 10-years old and had ordered that new vehicles should be fitted with Global Positioning System (GPS) system.

The plea moved earlier by the civic body had contended that the green panel had last year banned the registration of new diesel vehicles as well as re-registration after 10 years.

Later, the Supreme Court had also banned registration of diesel-run SUVs and cars having engine capacity beyond 2000cc in Delhi and National Capital Region.

Due to this, the transport department was not registering the newly-procured vehicles, which conform to BS-IV norms and not re-registering the old vehicles, it had said.

( Source – PTI )

No construction inside Surajpur wetlands, NGT

No construction inside Surajpur wetlands, NGT
No construction inside Surajpur wetlands, NGT

The National Green Tribunal has restrained Uttar Pradesh government from carrying out any construction inside Surajpur wetlands in Greater Noida after a plea claimed construction of permanent structures inside the eco-sensitive area.

A wetland is a land area that is saturated with water, either permanently or seasonally, and has a distinct ecosystem.

A bench headed by Justice U D Salvi also directed Uttar Pradesh Forest Department not to chop trees in the reserved forest area of 308 hectares in Gautam Budh Nagar Forest Division till July 14.

“In the meanwhile, the Respondent No 7 (Forest Dept of the State of UP) shall not illegally fell any trees in the reserved forest…And shall not carry out any construction, which is prohibited under Rule 4 of the said wetland Rules or commenced for non-forest purposes, in the said wetland as described till next date,” the bench said.

It also directed the state government to identify the extent of wetlands in the reserved forest area “with reasons” and submit the decision before it on the next date.

The matter is listed for next hearing on July 14.

The NGT had earlier issued notices to the Ministry of Environment and Forests, UP Irrigation Department, Central Wetlands Regulatory Authority and others on the plea filed by environment activist Vikrant Kumar Tongad against alleged construction in the Surajpur wetland situated in the reserved forests in Gautam Budh Nagar Forest Division

The plea had said that as per the Wetland Rules, 2010 any construction of permanent structure is prohibited in the eco-sensitive area. However, the state Forest Department has constructed a road for visitors on the wetland which hosts large population of fauna.

“Direct that no activity is undertaken in violation of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 and permanent structures constructed in violation of the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010 in Surajpur Wetland and Reserve Forest area of Surajpur and the area be restored to its original position,” the plea had said.

Tongad had claimed that there is “illegal” construction of a pathway and an “Eco Park” taking place within Surajpur wetland and its catchment area in gross violation to Rule 4 of Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010.

( Source – PTI )

‘Rohtang: Redesign Gulaba barrier within a week’

'Rohtang: Redesign Gulaba barrier within a week'
‘Rohtang: Redesign Gulaba barrier within a week’

The National Green Tribunal has directed Himachal Pradesh government to redesign the barrier at Gulaba near Manali within a week and install requisite equipments to ensure proper management of the tourists.

The green panel has also ordered the state government to properly manage mobile toilets units at Gulaba and other places besides effective waste disposal system.

“We issue directions to the State of Himachal Pradesh that barrier at Gulaba should be re-designed and manned properly. It should have all the relevant equipments and computerised system to ensure proper managements of the tourists pressure during the season.

“The mobile toilets units at Gulaba and other places should be properly managed and there should be effective waste disposal system. The sign boards put up should be preferably in a permanent material rather than flex and should be in both languages ie. English and Hindi,” a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said.

It has also directed local commissioners to conduct surprise inspection at different locations en route to Rohtang pass and submit report within a week.

“They would be within their right to conduct surprise inspection or conduct inspection after informing the authority concerned. In either of the event the State Authority including the Police and DC Kullu shall provide all help and assistance to the Local Commissioners to comply with the directions issued by the tribunal,” the bench said.

The matter is now listed for next hearing on July 14 at Shimla.

On May 9, the tribunal had said no activities like paragliding and snow scooters would be permitted at Rohtang Pass in Himachal Pradesh as the “extremely eco-sensitive area” cannot be subjected to further degradation.

However, it had observed that people involved in providing local dresses for photography purposes would be permitted to carry on their activity at Rohtang, Solang, Gulaba and Marhi and those given permit to carry on these activities would be licensed which would be provided by the authority concerned.

The tribunal had asked the state government to submit a comprehensive report on various aspects including the ropeway, operationalisation of CNG and electric buses, status with regard to afforestation and establishment of eco-friendly market at Marhi.

( Source – PTI )

Metro rail projects need environmental nod: NGT

Metro rail projects need environmental nod: NGT
Metro rail projects need environmental nod: NGT

The National Green Tribunal today held that all metro rail projects need environmental clearance after conducting proper Environment Impact Assessment.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said Noida Metro Rail, whose construction was challenged in the plea before it, fell under Schedule 8(b) of Environment Impact Assessment Notification, 2006, relating to buildings, construction and development projects which are mandated to get prior environmental clearance.

The green panel also directed upcoming Noida-Greater Noida metro project to obtain environmental clearance from State Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA).

The order was passed on the plea filed by environmentalist Vikrant Tongad seeking directions to Noida Metro Rail Corporation (NMRC) to obtain environmental clearance for its project from Noida to Greater Noida after conducting proper Environment Impact Assessment of the project.

“From the detailed project report (DPR), it is clear that the total land requirement for the project of metro rail from Noida to Greater Noida is around 2,84,762.01 sq m. However, no Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report was prepared. This fact was verified by the applicant by inspecting the records of the project under Right to Information Act, 2005.

“It is submitted that as per 8(b) of the Schedule of EIA Notification, 2006 project having covering area more than 50 ha or built up area more than 150,000 sq m requires environmental clearance and is to be appraised as category ‘B1’ project,” the plea, filed through advocate Rahul Choudhary, had said.

Tongad had stated that the metro from Noida to Greater Noida will pass through Hindon and piers would be constructed on the river bed which can significantly harm aquatic habitat of the river.

( Source – PTI )

NGT junks AOL’s plea for acceptance of fine as bank guarantee

NGT junks AOL's plea for acceptance of fine as bank guarantee
NGT junks AOL’s plea for acceptance of fine as bank guarantee

The National Green Tribunal on Tuesday junked the Art of Living’s (AOL) plea seeking its nod to accept the environment compensation, slapped for damaging Yamuna’s biodiversity, as bank guarantee instead of “payment of balance amount” of Rs 4.75 crore.

The green panel also slapped a fine of Rs 5,000 on Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s AOL for filing such application which “lacks bonafide” and directed it to pay the remainder amount in one week.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar rapped the AOL foundation for not depositing the amount despite assurance granted to the tribunal. The green panel on March 9 had refused to prohibit the three-days ‘World Culture Festival’, held by AOL between March 11 and 13, but slapped a fine of Rs 5 crore on the foundation for damaging biodiversity and aquatic life of Yamuna.

Later on March 11, AOL had moved a plea seeking four weeks time for depositing the amount after which the tribunal allowed the foundation to deposit Rs 25 lakh on that day and granted three weeks time period to pay the balance amount. “The applicant submits that the present application is being filed for modification of the order dated March 9 and March 11 to allow for submission for security by way of a bank guarantee in lieu of payment of balance amount as directed.

“The applicant is in the process of preparing proposal laying down process/methodology for collection of scientific data/evidence regarding assessment of actual environmental damage, if any, and hopes to persuade that the damage is neither permanent nor irreversible but, in fact, remediable and respectfully seeks an opportunity to demonstrate that the allegations levelled against it are completely without foundation and the reports submitted by expert committees which form the basis of previous orders were predominantly based on visual examination of the site rather than a detailed scientific assessment which, in any event, was not possible due to paucity of time,” the plea had said.

AOL had also sought to submit a proposal for laying down methodology for collection of scientific data regarding assessment of actual environmental damage and requested the tribunal to grant 45 days for the same.

( Source – PTI )

NGT raps states on pollution,warns of action agnst cs

NGT raps states on pollution,warns of action agnst cs
NGT raps states on pollution,warns of action agnst cs

The National Green Tribunal today took state governments to task for not taking a clear stand on pollution and vehicle density in major cities in their jurisdiction and directed them to produce the information by tomorrow failing which bailable warrants will be issued against chief secretaries.

The green panel directed Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, West Bengal to apprise it about cities which have worst ambient air quality, total number of vehicles along with their bifurcation (diesel/petrol) and the total population in each city.

The tribunal also rapped Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for submitting “half-baked” data on the population and vehicle density in major cities across the country. The CPCB report has indicated that ambient air quality in most of the cities was beyond permissible standards.

“What kind of report is this? You (CPCB) have given us a half-baked data. We had asked you about vehicle density. How many vehicles are diesel and petrol? According to your report, Mumbai has a population of 11 lakhs. This is the joke of the first category.

“Your report says Delhi has 245 vehicles per km. There are thousands of vehicles per km in the capital, what kind of report is this. Today, you can even see a Fiat car of 1960 on the road. People in Delhi still have their Maruti 800 driving around,” a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said while hearing a case related to air pollution.

The tribunal also directed Delhi RTO to appear before it and inform it about the total number of vehicles in the national capital along with their break-up.

At the outset, the NGT inquired the counsels appearing for Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh about the most polluted city in their states.

“Which city has maximum cars? Tell us the worst city in your state in terms of ambient air quality” the bench asked.

When the counsels failed to give a clear reply and sought time to seek instructions the bench got infuriated.

“Everyday you (states) say we want to seek instructions.

We want clear stand on ambient air quality, human population and vehicle density.

“If the states fail to produce the data by tomorrow, we will issue bailable warrants against the chief secretaries of all states. You have made a joke of our orders. Be prepared to face consequences now,” the bench warned.

( Source – PTI )

Sewage in Kosi: NGT slams U’khand for non compliance of order

Sewage in Kosi: NGT slams U'khand for non compliance of order
Sewage in Kosi: NGT slams U’khand for non compliance of order

Irked over non-implementation of its order on pollution in river Kosi in Nainital, the National Green Tribunal has slammed the Uttarakhand government for the delay in filing an action plan for collection and disposal of sewage in the entire area.

The green panel, which had constituted a committee last December and asked it to submit action plan within three months, said the Uttarakhand government needs to work with greater “seriousness”.

It expressed concern over the fact that two months have passed since the expiry of its order and neither any application has been filed for extension of time nor any step taken to enforce its order.

“Execution of the orders of the tribunal is essence of environmental justice and the person, particularly authorities, who do not carry out the directions not only are liable for disobedience but are also responsible for causing pollution and degradation of environment and ecology of the area. This relate to a serious matter like dealing with the sewage that was generated in various towns.

“One of the basic and fundamental source of pollution of river Ganga is discharge of untreated sewage into the river.

If this is the attitude with which Uttarakhand proposes to deal with the matters of environment, much needs to be said as well as appropriate actions are required to be taken against the concerned authorities…,” a bench headed by NGT chairperson Swatanter Kumar said.

The tribunal also issued notices to Uttarakhand Environment Secretary, CEO of Pay Jal Nigam and Pay Jal Sansthan, District Magistrate and Member Secretary of state Pollution Control Board to show cause why costs for adjournments be not imposed personally on the these officers and recovered from their salaries.

The matter is now listed for next hearing on July 4.

Kosi originates from the middle Himalayas from Kumaon in Uttarakhand, which does not emanate from any glacier and is a perennial river like Ramganga. .

( Source – PTI )

NGT raps civic bodies in Agra over waste around Taj Mahal

tajmahalThe National Green Tribunal today came down heavily on the civic bodies in Agra district of Uttar Pradesh over rampant dumping of municipal solid waste on the floodplains of Yamuna near Taj Mahal leading to stagnation of water in the river.

“Have you (civic bodies) seen the dirt around the Taj Mahal? It’s a world heritage site. It’s a shame that you can’t keep even a world known monument clean. Total junk is lying there. It is impermissible. We have been passing orders all round the year still you have not taken any action.

“We had asked you to put barbed wire so that there is no encroachment on the floodplains, you have not done that as well. Please clear the dirt. Ask your officials to appear before us,” a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said.

The tribunal rapped Agra Development Authority and Agra Nagar Nigam for their failure to keep the area near the marble mausoleum clean and directed the top officers of these departments to appear before it on May 31.

The green panel on May 16 had issued notices to Ministry of Environment and Forests, Uttar Pradesh government and others on the plea of Agra resident D K Joshi.

Joshi had claimed that dumping of waste in Yamuna has led to stagnation of the river and “consequently the explosive breeding of an insect called ‘Chironomus Calligraphus’ (Geoldichironomus), which is a biological indicator of water quality and localised water pollution.”

Referring to a report of the Archaeological Survey of India, the plea, filed through advocate Rahul Chaudhory, had said that these insects are staining the walls of the Taj Mahal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, greenish-black.

“School of Entymology, St John’s School, Agra did a preliminary report on the insect attack to the Taj Mahal and found that the presence of the insect was causing damage to the monument,” the plea had said while seeking constitution of a Committee to look into the problem to prevent further damage to the river and the monument.

( Source – PTI )