NGT directs Jal Board, DPCC to submit report on illegal extraction of groundwater

The National Green Tribunal on Friday directed the Jal Board and the Pollution Control Committee in the national capital to submit report on a plea alleging illegal extraction of groundwater in North Delhi.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said depletion of groundwater is a serious concern and authorities should seriously look into the issue.

“Let the DJB and DPCC look into the matter and take appropriate action in accordance with law and furnish a factual and action taken report to this tribunal within one month,” the bench said.

The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) will be the nodal agency for coordination and compliance, it said.

The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by city resident Pramod Kumar Jha seeking action against illegal extraction of groundwater for sale through tankers in village Jagatpur near Yamuna biodiversity park.

The petitioner also alleged that charcoal drums were being burnt in open, causing air pollution.

Expressing concern over depleting groundwater levels, the NGT had set up a committee to formulate steps required to prevent its unauthorised extraction.

The green body had directed the committee to evolve a robust mechanism to ensure that groundwater is not illegally extracted and to monitor manning and functioning of the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA).

The committee comprises joint secretaries of the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Ministry of Water Resources, Central Ground Water Board, National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee, National Remote Sensing Centre and Central Pollution Control Board.

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.

Urgent need to document details of local communities: NGT

There is an urgent need to document details of local communities as India is one of the recognised mega-diverse countries, harbouring nearly 7-8 per cent of the recorded species of the world, the National Green Tribunal has said.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said there was ‘zero’ progress with regard to the Peoples’ Biodiversity Registers (PBRs) in Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.

On the subject of Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCs) there is ‘zero’ progress in Bihar and Jammu and Kashmir, the tribunal noted.

The tribunal directed the chief secretaries of all the states, where the defaults are continuing to consider giving warning to the panchayat secretaries for their past failures, documenting the same in their service record and give direction to the officers who are responsible for the job to ensure compliance with 100 per cent constitution of BMCs and PBRs by January 31, 2020, failing which coercive measures may have to be considered against them.

The chief secretaries may evolve a mechanism for ensuring a monthly meeting to be attended by the chairman and member secretaries of State Biodiversity Boards, secretaries, panchayat, starting from September, 2019, it said.

“The states will be accountable for defaults and required to deposit a sum of Rs 10 lakh per month each from February 1, 2020 with the CPCB to be utilised for restoration of the environment. The states will be at liberty to recover the said amount from the persons committing the default,” the tribunal said.

It directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests and the National Biodiversity Authority to hold a review meeting every month from September 2019 till the task is completed.

“The MoEF may file a compliance report after collecting the necessary data from all the states on or before February 15, 2020. The Monitoring Committee of the MoEF may oversee the quality of PBRs on sample basis by evolving a suitable mechanism, it said in a recent order.

The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by Pune resident Chandra Bhal Singh seeking implementation of provisions of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 and the Biological Diversity Rules, 2004.

The Biological Diversity Act, 2002 aims to preserve biological diversity in the country and provides mechanism for equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of traditional biological resources and knowledge.

It was alleged that various states in the country have failed to give proper attention to the unique biodiversity prevalent and they have also not undertaken their statutory obligations with “seriousness and have remained oblivious in discharging the statutory provision in the last couple of years”.

NGT directs Delhi chief secy to furnish report on illegal scrap units in Mayapuri

The National Green Tribunal has directed the Delhi chief secretary to furnish a status report on illegal scrap units, which do a business of around Rs 6,000 crore per annum, in Mayapuri here.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel also asked the authorities to adopt stern precautionary measures against polluters in view of deteriorating air quality in the city.

The NGT said that the failure of authorities was resulting in damage to public health and environment.

“The chief secretary states that the steps are now being taken to improve the situation, including the working of Delhi Pollution Control Committee. The chief secretary has undertaken to look into the present matter and to positively furnish a separate report in the matter before the next date of hearing,” the bench said.

The tribunal has posted the matter for April 11.

The NGT had earlier directed the AAP government to furnish a performance guarantee of Rs 5 crore within a month for failing to act against illegal scrap units in Mayapuri here.

The green panel had also directed an oversight committee headed by former high court judge Justice Pratibha Rani to monitor the working of a seven-member Special Task Force which was formed to take action against the units involved in dismantling of heavy vehicles.

The NGT had taken note of an English newspaper report about the scrap business in Mayapuri.

“Proceedings have been initiated in view of the news item to the effect that there is scrap business at Mayapuri, Delhi, worth Rs 6,000 crores per annum,” it had noted.

“The activities of the said business spew toxic fumes and chemicals and oils are also emitted. Such toxic fumes create severe air pollution affecting public health,” it had added.

The news item said that authorities have failed to take necessary steps of stopping illegal industrial activities resulting in toxic fumes being released in the air.

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.

Emission fiasco: NGT slaps Rs 500-crore fine on Volkswagen

The National Green Tribunal Thursday slapped a fine of Rs 500 crore on German auto major Volkswagen for damaging the environment through the use of “cheat device” in its diesel cars in India.

A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel directed the carmaker to deposit the amount within two months.

The green panel on November 16, 2018 had said use of ‘cheat device’ by Volkswagen in diesel cars in India led to the inference of environmental damage and had directed it to deposit an interim amount of Rs 100 crore with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

It had also constituted a joint team of representatives of the CPCB, Ministry of Heavy Industries, Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) and National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, which had recommended Rs 171.34-crore fine on Volkswagen as “health damages” for causing air pollution in Delhi due to excess nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions.

The tribunal was hearing pleas filed by Ailawadi, a school teacher, and a few others seeking ban on the sale of Volkswagen vehicles for alleged violation of emission norms.

The company said it will challenge today’s order before the apex court, reiterating that its cars were compliant with the emission norms as defined in India.

“The Volkswagen Group in India reiterates that all cars from the group are compliant with the emission norms defined in India. The group awaits the copy of the order of the NGT. The Volkswagen Group will challenge the order of the NGT before the Supreme Court,” the automobile company said in a statement.

NGT slams Volkswagen for not depositing Rs 100 crore as per its 2018 order

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) Thursday slammed German auto major Volkswagen for not depositing Rs 100 crore in accordance with its November 16, 2018 order and directed it to submit the amount within 24 hours.

A bench headed by NGT chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel took strong exception to the non-compliance of its order by the automobile giant and asked it to give an undertaking that it will submit the amount by 5 PM Friday.

“Why have you not complied with our order when there is no stay. We will not give you any further time,” the bench, also comprising Justice S P Wangdi, said while asking Volkswagen to submit an affidavit of compliance after deposit.

The tribunal deferred the matter for hearing after it was informed that the Supreme Court is also seized of the issue.

On November 16 last year, the tribunal had said that the use of ‘cheat device’ by Volkswagen in diesel cars in India leads to inference of environmental damage and had asked the German auto major to deposit an interim amount of Rs 100 crore with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

Wonder whether even MLA has no trust in system: NGT

The National Green Tribunal expressed surprise over an MLA approaching it on an environmental issue instead of heading to the authority concerned, saying it wondered “whether even an MLA has no trust and faith in the statutory authorities and is ‘helpless’ in making such authorities do their duty”.

A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said it was astonished that a Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) had to approach the tribunal against the construction and debris waste stored, transported and distributed by IL&FS at Jahangirpuri here.

“It is surprising that an MLA has approached this tribunal instead of approaching the authorities. We wonder whether even the MLA has no trust and faith in the statutory authorities and helpless in making such authorities do their duty,” the bench, also comprising Justice S P Wangdi, said.

Taking note of the legislator’s plea, the tribunal asked the Delhi Pollution Control Committee to look into the matter, take appropriate action in accordance with law and furnish a factual and action taken report within a month.

It also reiterated that every order of the NGT was binding as a decree of court and non-compliance was actionable by way of punitive action in terms of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010.

The tribunal has posted the matter for hearing on April 24.

Adarsh Nagar MLA Pawan Kumar Sharma had approached the tribunal against dumping of construction and debris waste at Jahangirpuri in north west Delhi.

He alleged that in the process, tonnes of stones and cement blocks are crushed, the waste is put on the government land by way of encroachment and garbage dumps have been created, adversely affecting the environment.