National Green Tribunal refuses to unseal Haj House in Ghaziabad

The National Green Tribunal Wednesday refused to unseal the Haj House in Ghaziabad for failing to setup a sewage treatment plant (STP).

The Haj House in Uttar Pradesh’s Arthala village is an under-construction seven-storey building located near the Hindon river and it was sealed last year.

A vacation bench headed by Justice Raghuvendra S Rathore said the plea filed by the Uttar Pradesh State Haj Committee cannot be allowed as a larger bench has already passed orders in the matter.

The green panel had directed the Uttar Pradesh Haj House Committee to ensure that a Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) of 136 kilo litre per day is installed there to treat domestic effluent.

Earlier,permission was granted to unseal the facility, but it was for limited period. Moreover, the Haj House is yet to setup a STP, it said.

“In view of the aforesaid facts and circumstances, an order passed by the larger bench of the tribunal on March 12 in the miscellaneous application filed by the present applicant himself, we are of the considered opinion that the prayer made in the present application filed for the second time, no relief can be granted to the applicant by this vacation bench, particularly when the initial order has been passed,” the bench said.

The green panel had earlier junked a plea seeking demolition of a building for Haj pilgrims in Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh, noting that the structure does not fall on the flood plains of the Hindon river.

It had dismissed the petition filed by an NGO and a Ghaziabad resident claiming that the land where the Haj House was being constructed was recorded as ‘Hindon River’ in the revenue records of Arthala village in Ghaziabad.

According to the plea, the construction of Haj House was in complete violation of the directions of the Chief Secretary of Uttar Pradesh to all authorities, including police, to ensure that no construction of any kind is allowed on the floodplain.

It had also referred to the 2013 NGT order which had taken note of the several illegal construction on the floodplains and passed a restraining order against any illegal construction of temporary or permanent nature on floodplains of Yamuna and Hindon.

Offering a capacity of 2,500 pilgrims at a time like the Lucknow Haj house, the Ghaziabad Haj house will have arrangements for foreign exchange, immigration, medical aid and other amenities for the pilgrims. A separate administrative block is also being constructed.

Finalise standards for lead in PVC pipes within 2 months: National Green Tribunal

 The National Green Tribunal has directed the Centre to finalise within two months the standards for using lead in Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) pipes which are commonly used in most buildings.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to finalise a draft notification within the stipulated period.

“We find that once the expert committee has recommended issuance of draft notification on December 13, 2018, there is no reason to further delay the publication of the draft notification and finalisation of the same in such a sensitive matter of environment,” the bench said.

“Accordingly, the MoEF may now publish the draft notification, if not yet published, and finalise the same at the earliest and furnish compliance report within two months by e-mail,” it added.

The tribunal was informed by the Environment Ministry that draft rules were considered on December 13, 2018 and a recommendation was made to issue a draft notification as per the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

The NGT was earlier informed that water passing through PVC pipes commonly used in most buildings may contain toxic materials like lead, which has a hazardous effect on human health.

The green panel was hearing a plea filed by environment activist Ajay Kumar Singh, seeking the issuance of notification to lay down standards for lead to be used in PVC pipes and to phase out lead as a stabiliser in PVC pipes.

The plea also sought directions for withdrawal of PVC pipes, containing lead-based heat stabiliser, from the market and a ban on the use of such stabilisers.

National Green Tribunal refuses to review order slapping 5Lakh fine on schools and colleges

The National Green Tribunal on Thursday refused to review its order slapping a fine of Rs 5 lakh each on schools and colleges which have failed to install rain water harvesting systems on their premises.

A bench headed by Justice Raghuvendra S Rathore said the execution of the order of the tribunal had not been made by the parties during the entire 2018.

“Therefore, a detail order was passed by the tribunal on January 30 after taking into consideration all the facts and circumstances. By the said order, directions were issued to all the educational institutions in NCT Delhi, including South Delhi Municipal Corporation who were also party in the original application. Thereafter, another order was passed on February 22,” it noted.

The green panel said that despite the specific order passed by the larger bench of the tribunal on November 16 with the specific time frame, the same was not implemented within the period of two months.

It said that a review plea cannot be accepted for the reason that had the parties started the work in execution of the order since November, 2017, the work would have been completed much earlier.

It is only after passing of the order in the execution application that the respondent authorities have come into action, it said.

“In this execution application the tribunal has only imposed the environmental compensation which was ordered on November 16, 2017. In fact the defaulting persons are liable for further compensation/cost for not completing the rainwater harvesting system within the time schedule. During the intervening period one monsoon season has already lapsed,” the tribunal said.

“In the aforesaid facts and circumstances and the specific order passed on November 16 as well as the fact that in case of default environmental compensation was already fixed by the tribunal in its order while deciding the original application, we do not find any error apparent on the face of the record in the orders dated January 30 and February 22.

The tribunal had earlier directed the Ministry of Human Resource Development to inform it within a week about the status of installation of rainwater harvesting systems in Kendriya and Navodaya Vidyalayas here.

The NGT had earlier imposed a penalty of Rs 5 lakh each on educational institutions in the national capital for failing to install rainwater harvesting systems.

The tribunal’s direction had come on a plea filed by city resident Mahesh Chandra Saxena.

National Green Tribunal raps officials over action plan on noise pollution

 The National Green Tribunal has rapped the police and the district adminstration over their action plan to check noise pollution in West Delhi and termed the ATR as “inaction report”.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said the DCP and the SDM are merely avoiding the responsibility and shifting the burden to the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) or others.

DCP Deepak Purohit and SDM Nitin Jindal, who were present at NGT, informed the tribunal in their action report that an exclusive website and a helpline were being be developed by DPCC.

It had also been asked to undertake programme of awareness and a separate head has been created for the calls relating to noise pollution.

“We find that the action taken report (ATR) is in fact ‘Inaction Report. The DCP and the SDM need to be trained for the job for which they have been appointed. They are merely avoiding the responsibility and shifting the burden to the DPCC or others. It is difficult to accept that only DPCC can create awareness or that only DPCC can create website and DCP and SDM are unfit for the job,” the bench said.

The green panel directed the chief secretary and the Police Commissioner to monitor the situation and file a report within a month by e-mail.

It also directed the DCP and SDM to take steps for starting the website within a month and furnish a compliance report.

“It will be open to them to take assistance from any experts but not to shift responsibility. The website should be interactive. Hot spots should be identified and mapped and kept under surveillance. They may take guidance from experts including the DPCC and Central Pollution Control Board to understand their mandate and acquire minimum knowledge required for the job,” the bench said.

The tribunal said that violation of noise pollution norms is a criminal offence under Section 15 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, apart from Sections 268/290/291 IPC and it is mandate of Delhi Police to enforce the law.

Noise free environment is a part of fundamental right to life for the citizens, it said.

“We also direct the three Municipal Corporations in Delhi, the New Delhi Municipal Council and the Delhi Cantonment Board to acquire noise monitoring devices at the earliest. Technical assistance for the purpose can be taken from CPCB/DPCC.

“Awareness programmes may be undertaken by the Joint Committee by coordinating with the Residents Welfare Associations and the educational departments or other volunteers. In the present case, unfortunately the committee has simply avoided its responsibility in this regard by taking the plea that it has asked DPCC to do so. The committee is either not competent or not sincere. The higher authorities are not monitoring their working as expected,” NGT said.

The tribunal sought a fresh ATR by the Joint Committee before June 30.

The tribunal had earlier rapped the Delhi government for its failure to check noise pollution in West Delhi and slapped a fine of Rs 5 lakh on it for non-compliance of its order.

The green panel had said that neither a dedicated 24 hour helpline nor a public redressal mechanism has been devised for receiving complaints by SMS, telephone or e-mails.

It had also noted that even the DCP and the SDM have not held joint weekly meeting to review the situation.

The green panel on September 27, 2018 had passed a slew of directions and said Delhi Chief Secretary, Commissioner of Police and Delhi Pollution Control Committee will be responsible for enforcement of the directions.

The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by Hardeep Singh and others alleging that bars and restaurants in Rajouri Garden area were using loud speakers and DJ systems during weddings, receptions, parties and other functions and causing noise pollution from 10 pm to 6 am.

NGT acts tough on air pollution and directs 6 states to submit action plan by April 30

 The National Green Tribunal has directed six states to submit by April 30 action plans for bringing air quality standards within the prescribed norms, failing which they would be liable to pay environment compensation of Rs 1 crore each.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel ordered the chief secretaries of Assam, Jharkhand Maharashtra, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Nagaland governments to submit their plan within the stipulated time.

“We direct chief secretaries of the states in respect of which action plans have not been filed to forthwith furnish such action plans,” the bench, also comprising Justices S P Wangdi and K Ramakrishnan, said.

The States, where action plans are found to be deficient and deficiencies are not removed till April 30, 2019, will be liable to pay Rs 25 lakh each and the timeline for execution of the action plans is six months from the date their finalisation, the bench said.

It said that budgetary provision must be made for execution of such plans.

The tribunal warned that if action plans are not executed within the specified timeline, the defaulting states will be liable to pay environmental compensation and may also be required to furnish performance guarantee for execution of plans in extended timeline as per recommendations received from the Central Pollution Control Board.

“The CPCB is directed to update the number of cities. If on parameters applied, there are other cities, not included in list of 102, such cities may be also included,” the NGT said.

The direction came after the CPCB informed it that out of 102 cities, action plan has been received from 83 cities while 19 have not submitted the plan.

The NGT will take up the matter for further consideration on July 19.

Concerned over the threat posed to limited natural resources due to their overuse, the tribunal has directed for assessment of carrying capacity of 102 cities, including Delhi, where air quality does not meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

The concept of “carrying capacity” addresses the question as to how many people can be permitted into any area without the risk of degrading the environment there.

The tribunal had said the Ministry of Urban Development in coordination with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Ministry of Transport, authorities such as Planning Commission and states may carry out such study with the assistance of experts in the field.

It had said that it is undisputed that air pollution is a matter of serious concern and large number of deaths take place every year in the country on account of air pollution.

The NGT had said Delhi is over-polluted and figures quite high in the ranking of most polluted cities and there is no study about the capacity of the city with respect to the extent of population which can be accommodated and number of vehicles which can be handled by its roads.

NGT directs police to remove encroachments by scrap dealers in R K Puram

The National Green Tribunal has directed the police to remove encroachments due to construction of shops and godowns of scrap dealers in R K Puram here, on a plea alleging that it caused pollution.

A bench headed by Justice Raghuvendra S Rathore asked the Station House Officer of the area to take immediate action against the encroachers as and when the municipal corporation informs him.

“After considering the submission by the counsels for the parties, we consider it proper to direct the Deputy Commissioner of Police, South-West Delhi, to ensure that there is no encroachment in the area in question… It shall also be the responsibility of the Deputy Commissioner of Police to see that the encroachers do not resettle in the area,” the bench said.

The green panel was hearing a plea filed by Khushi Sewa Sanstha seeking action against unauthorised commercial activity by scrap dealers in sector 1 of R K Puram and alleged that this was resulting in different forms of pollution.

The plea had alleged that despite several complaints, no action was taken by the authorities concerned, resulting in the degradation of the environment.

The tribunal also granted liberty to petitioner Khushi Sewa Sanstha that in case it has any grievance, it would be free to submit a representation to the Commissioner, South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), and the DCP giving out the details of the encroachments and their names so that proper action may be taken.

During the hearing, the SDMC told the NGT that encroachments have been removed and they are keeping a continuous vigil over the area and as and when any encroachment is made, the same is immediately removed.

“It has also been submitted by the SDMC counsel that some jhuggi and jhopdis which are existing in the area are to be looked into and taken care of by the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board,” the tribunal noted.

‘Keep constant vigil on encroachments in Azadpur’

The National Green Tribunal Wednesday directed the North Delhi Municipal Corporation to keep a constant vigil on the encroachments in Azadpur here and seek the help of police in removing squatters.

A bench headed by Justice Raghuvendra S Rathore said removal of unauthorised occupants on the road was a continuous exercise and asked the Delhi police to render due assistance to the corporation as and when needed.

Advocate Puja Kalra, appearing for the corporation told the bench, also comprising expert member S S Gabrayal, that they have already removed the encroachments as alleged in the plea by city residents Sushil Baheti and Ritesh Goel.

During the hearing, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) told the NGT that they have installed air quality monitoring station at Azadpur.

Noting the submissions, the tribunal disposed of the plea which had sought removal of encroachments from Azadpur area here, saying these were causing traffic congestion.

The plea, filed through advocate Rahul Khurana, had claimed that the issue raised by the applicants was dealt by the Public Grievances Commission of the Delhi government which directed Deputy Commissioner (Civil Lines Zone), North Delhi Municipal Corporation to remove encroachments on a regular basis.

“Vide the same order it was also directed SHO of Adarsh Nagar not to allow any unauthorised vendor once the area is cleared by the civic agency. It is pertinent to mention herein that the Grievances Commission observed that the issue of encroachment at Azadpur is a very chronic matter that needs to be resolved and advised to approach the tribunal for getting corrective orders to resolve the grievance,” the plea had said.

The plea had also sought directions to the Delhi Pollution Control Committee to install ambient air quality monitoring station in the area.

NGT forms committee to decide if 2 pvt Agra colleges fall within Soor Sarovar Bird Sanctuary

 The National Green Tribunal has constituted a committee to decide whether two private engineering colleges have been constructed inside the Soor Sarovar Bird Sanctuary in Agra.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel set up the committee on October 30 comprising the Principal Secretaries of departments of revenue and forest, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Head of the Forest Force) and the Chief Wild Life Warden of Uttar Pradesh.

The nodal officer will be the Chief Wild Life Warden of the state who will co-ordinate the proceedings and take initiative for carrying out these directions, the tribunal said, adding that the Chief Secretary will facilitate this exercise as per the timelines fixed by it. 

“The meeting for the purpose may be held within one month from today and decision on the question whether the Anand Engineering College, Agra and Hindustan Institute of Management and Technology are within the area of Wild Life Sanctuary notified on March 27, 1991 may be taken within two months thereafter. The concerned statutory authorities will thereafter enforce the said order. The committee is free to take assistance of any concerned officer of the State,” the bench said.

The NGT said that it would be open to the parties to put forward their view point before the committee through the Chief Wild Life Warden in writing with relevant records. 

“A report of the committee may be forwarded to this Tribunal by the Chief Wild Life Warden, Uttar Pradesh by e-mail at on or before February 28, 2019 and put up for consideration on March 12, 2019,” said the bench, also comprising Justice S P Wangdi, in its October 30 order. 

The order came after counsel for the parties suggested that a committee be constituted to resolve the conflicting versions and to oversee demarcation. 

“On the one hand, the stand of Agra District Magistrate is that the area is covered by the Notification, on the other hand without demarcation of the same, the SEIAA has granted Environmental Clearance and the Pollution Control Board has granted Consent under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 thereby permitting the institutions to continue,” the NGT noted.

The tribunal was hearing a plea of an environmentalist challenging the construction of two private engineering colleges inside the Soor Sarovar Bird Sanctuary in Agra.

It alleged that the construction has come up without obtaining required environment clearance as required under EIA Notification, 2006, No Objection Certificate from Pollution Control Board, Forest Clearance and any permission from National Board for Wildlife and in violation of Wetland (Conservation & Management) Rules, 2010.

The plea had sought the demolition of illegal structure, quashing of environmental clearances and action against state officials besides restoration of the area.

It had also alleged that Hindustan Institute of Management and Technology was discharging noxious effluents directly into Keetham lake in the sanctuary without treatment.

The plea claimed that the college “managed” to procure NOC from the district administration of Agra that the land is not being use for agriculture or horticulture “in violation of the provisions of the Section 2 of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 and the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 which prohibits such change of land use”.

NGT forms team to probe death of 7 elephants in Odisha

New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has constituted a team to enquire into the death of seven elephants which were electrocuted after coming in contact with a live wire near Kamalanga village in Odisha’s Dhenkanal district.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel constituted a team comprising representatives of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Wildlife Institute of India in Dehradun, director of Project Elephant and chief wildlife warden in Odisha.

The team will visit the site and suggest measures to prevent recurrence of such incidents in future, due to electrocution or other causes which can be applicable to wildlife areas in the entire country, the NGT said.

“The representative of Ministry of Environment, Forests will be the coordinator. The visit may be undertaken within two weeks from today” the bench, also comprising Justice S P Wangdi, said in its October 30 order.

The green panel directed the Central Electricity Supply Utility of Odisha (CESU) to deposit Rs 1 crore with the chief wildlife warden of the state within a week and asked it to submit its stand in the case to the MoEF.

The tribunal said the incident “prima facie” shows apathy to the wildlife by CESU as 42 elephants have died of electrocution due to sagging live wires and at least 18 were killed in Dhenkanal division since April 2010 as per a news report, titled “Hanging live wire kills 7 jumbos in Odisha”.

It appointed advocate Amit A Pai to assist the tribunal in the matter and posted the matter for consideration of the report on December 20.

The tribunal passed the order after taking note of the news report.

The article said that according to the Forest Department, electrocution occurred on account of negligence of CESU.

Seven elephants were electrocuted after coming in contact with a live wire near Kamalanga village on October 27.

A herd of 13 jumbos was passing through the village in Sadar Forest Range and seven of them came in contact with an 11-KV line.

The carcasses of seven pachyderms, including a tusker and five females, were spotted in the morning by villagers who informed forest officials.

While three carcasses were lying on a road, four others were inside a canal.

The incident happened apparently because of sagging electric wire, the forest officials said.

Delhi requires 11,000 public transport buses: AAP govt to SC

New Delhi: Delhi is facing an acute shortage of public transport as only 5,554 buses against the required number of 11,000 vehicles are plying in the national capital, the Supreme Court was informed today.

In an affidavit filed before the apex court, the Delhi government has said its “all-out efforts” to augment a bus fleet to meet the requirement of 11,000 buses was hindered due to non-availability of land for depots and repeated failure of tenders issued by the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) for procurement of vehicles.
It said as per the directions of the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court, the total requirement of bus fleet in the city was 11,000, but presently only 5,554 CNG-run buses were being operated.

The Delhi government has said that there were 1,275 low floor AC buses, 2,506 low floor non-AC buses and 101 Green standard floor non-AC buses.
Besides these, 1,672 orange colour standard low floor buses were being operated under the cluster scheme, which was introduced in 2011 to replace the erstwhile blue line buses, it said.

“The present fleet of buses in Delhi is 5,554 and the requirement is of 11,000 buses. The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) is making all-out efforts to augment the bus fleet to meet this requirement, but is hindered in its efforts due to non-availability of depot land to bring cluster buses and repeated failure of tenders issued by the DTC for procurement of buses,” the affidavit said.

It said that the Delhi cabinet had taken a decision on September 1 last year for inducting 2,000 standard floor buses through procurement of 1,000 buses by the DTC and engagement of 1,000 vehicles under the cluster scheme.
It said that the high court had on June 1 this year stayed the implementation of this decision, which was at an advanced stage, and if the stay was vacated, 2,000 standard floor buses would be ready for induction.
“Thus, GNCTD introduced a new scheme whereby through a tender process concessionaries for nine clusters were selected through bidding process to run these orange buses. As a social responsibility, GNCTD is funding the viability gap between the total operating cost and and fare box collection for operation of buses under the cluster scheme,” it said.
The city government said a cabinet decision was taken on May 18 this year to procure additional 2,000 low floor buses which were likely to be procured by May 2020 and the DTC board has also decided to procure 500 low floor CNG buses.

The Delhi government has said that DDA has given its consent for the same, but the matter was pending before the National Green Tribunal.
“It is assured that if the millennium bus depot complex and aforesaid two parcels of land are made available by the DDA along with additional 15 acres of land, the GNCTD would be in a position to meet the depot space requirement for the fleet of 11,000 buses in Delhi,” the affidavit said.

It further said that DDA had allotted two parcels of land of 10 acres each at Vasant Kunj and Rohini Sector 32, but despite paying the entire amount to the authority, the land was not handed over to the AAP government as they were in litigation.
The issue had cropped up when the court was hearing a matter which had raised the issue of air pollution in the Delhi-National Capital Region.