PCB begins implementation of NGT’s landmark directions
More institutions to face music for polluting environ
JAMMU, Nov 22: In a first of its own kind major action, Jammu and Kashmir Pollution Control Board has asked the Municipal Council Udhampur to pay Rs 1.39 crore compensation for polluting the environment by resorting to illegal and unscientific dumping and disposal of solid waste.
Similar action against Government departments, health institutions (both private and Government) and other Urban Local Bodies etc in compliance to the directions of the National Green Tribunal is on the cards to have deterrent impact and to generate funds for initiation of measures to mitigate adverse impact on the environment.
EXCELSIOR in its edition dated October 14, 2019 had exclusively reported that J&K Pollution Control Board was all set to implement in letter and spirit the directions of the National Green Tribunal whereby polluters of environment will have to pay hefty compensation.
The National Green Tribunal while dealing with a case titled Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti and Another Versus Union of India and Others had decided to levy Environmental Compensation under the ‘Polluter Pays Principle’
The Tribunal even prepared formula for working out the compensation for polluting environment through effluents, municipal solid waste and sewage etc.
In compliance to the directions of the NGT, the J&K Pollution Control Board put the guidelines prepared by the Central Pollution Control Board in the public domain for awareness of all the stakeholders/ defaulters of environmental laws on September 18, 2019 and the action has finally begun with Municipal Council Udhampur becoming the first target for brazen violation of the Tribunal’s directions and openly polluting the environment.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that on the basis of the reports about illegal and unscientific dumping and disposal of solid waste by the Municipal Council Udhampur, the Pollution Control Board took up the issue with the Deputy Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer through series of communications.
However, there was no positive response and reckless handling and disposal of solid waste on the hill slopes alongside National Highway continued besides putting a part of the waste to fire intermittently in brazen violation of the directions of the NGT.
Accordingly, a show case notice was served to Santosh Kotwal, Chief Executive Officer of Municipal Council Udhampur against which no tenable response was received, sources said, adding on persistent default of Municipal Council Udhampur the matter was even taken up with the Principal Secretary to Government, Housing and Urban Development Department with the request to get the practice of illegal dumping and unscientific disposal of waste stopped.
Thereafter, on continuous failure of the CEO Municipal Council Udhampur to dispose of solid waste in a proper manner, notice of levying of Environmental Compensation in the light of the directions of the NGT and guidelines framed by the Central Pollution Control Board was served upon CEO calling upon him to show reasons as to why Environmental Compensation be not levied on him.
In response to this notice, the CEO unwittingly admitted the dumping of the solid waste at forest compartment No.64(U) Khari-Jakhani on the alleged directions of the concerned Deputy Commissioner.
Now, the Pollution Control Board has levied Environmental Compensation to the tune of Rs 1.39 crore on the Municipal Council Udhampur for the period of violation commencing from the date the show cause notice was issued and latest date of inspection by District Officer of the Board, which confirmed the continuous violation by the Municipal Council.
The CEO has been asked to deposit the Environmental Compensation in the online bank account of the Pollution Control Board within 45 days failing which interest at the rate of 12% on the compensation amount shall accrue at his own risk and responsibility.
“Thereafter, the compensation shall continue at the appropriate rate as per the environmental laws on day to day basis”, sources said while disclosing that Environmental Compensation has been worked out as per the formula devised by the NGT.
It is pertinent to mention here that the formula for Environmental Compensation approved by the National Green Tribunal incorporates the anticipated severity of environmental pollution in terms of Pollution Index, duration of violation in terms of number of days, scale of operation in terms of micro/small/medium/large industry and location in terms of proximity to the large habitations.
“This is just the beginning and more Urban Local Bodies, health institutions (both Government and private) and other Government institutions will face the music for polluting the environment by throwing to winds the relevant laws”, sources informed.They disclosed that large number of establishments both in Government and private sectors have yet not initiated steps for setting up of Effluent Treatment Plants (ETPs), Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CETPs) and Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) as required under environmental laws.
“Some of the major agencies including Jammu and Srinagar Municipal Corporations are still polluting the water bodies by turning blind eye towards direct flow of sewage and this act on their part will lead to payment of hefty Environmental Compensation under the guidelines”, sources said.