A Review Of The NGT On Environmental Compensation And Waste Management Implementation

Dr. Moatoshi Ao

28 Jun 2023 5:03 AM GMT

  • A Review Of The NGT On Environmental Compensation And Waste Management Implementation
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    The National Green Tribunal (NGT) since its inception has been vigorously adjudicating environmental disputes in accordance with the legislative and governmental policies. Headlines in the media of heavy penalty or compensation by the court are being reported often. Despite such headlines, the same media on the other page report the poor quality of the air, polluted rivers, contaminated lands and pictures of waste accumulated on the streets. It is thus indispensable to find out the reasons for such poor quality environment although the legislature has enacted sturdy up to the minute laws and the judiciary delivering strong judgements – deterrent in nature. Numerous reasons and solutions have been reported in various platforms, however only a few to patiently and zealously take it to the field and to work on it. As stated, the NGT has taken this issue to the core either Suo Motu or under directions of the Supreme Court or on the application by a party and delivered orders that would remove the impediment that is between legislation and implementation. This column thus studies the endeavour of the NGT during the last 5 years (since 2018) in harmonizing the impediment of legislative enactments and its implementation.

    Environmental Compensation

    Restoration of the environment and imposition of compensation as emphasized by the NGT Act of 2010, a Polluter Pays Principle is a significant provision for the tribunal rendering immense jurisdiction in computation of damages against the polluter. Though, the tribunal’s orders are subject to appeal before the Supreme Court, the tribunal within its jurisdiction may apply the principle of ‘no fault’ thus broadening its jurisdiction undisputed. The tribunal during the last 5 years has imposed approximately about 2335.87 crores Rupees[1] on various parties, an amount that would, if diligently used for restoration of environment, one may see significant improvement. However, the Constitutional limitations of the judicial forums render the tribunal toothless in supervision of the amount spending. The table hereinbelow shows the some of the case citation and the amount of Environmental Compensation (EC) imposed by the NGT.

    Sl. No.

    Case Details

    Amount of EC


    Praveen Kakar vs. Ministry Of Environment, Original Application No. 661/2018

    i) EC of 153.5 crores on M/s. Ansal Properties and Infrastructure Ltd

    ii) EC of 2 crore on TCPD Gurgaon


    Digvijay Singh vs. State Of Rajasthan, Original Application No. 34(THC)/2014

    i) EC on Rajasthan Industrial & Investment Corporation of 2 crores

    ii) EC on local bodies of District Barmer and Jodhpur of 2 crores


    Waris Chemicals Pvt Ltd vs Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control, Appeal No. 18/2020

    EC on Appellant of Rs 25,39,68,750


    In re: news item published in The Hindu dated 06.03.2023 titled "Kochi chokes as fire at waste dump still rages; govt. asks people to stay indoors" on 17 March, 2023

    Original Application No. 178/2023

    EC of 100 crores on Kochi Municipal Corporation


    Sanjay Kumar vs. Union of India & Ors., Original Application No. 10/2021

    Interim compensation on PP of 3 crores


    Devanshu Bose vs. Agra Development Authority, Original Application No. 329/2021

    EC of 2 crores over and above 25 lakhs levied before on Agra Development Authority


    Amelia Textiles & Chemicals Pvt. vs. Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control, Appeal No. 15/2020

    EC of Rs. 11,92,50,000/- on Appellant


    Priyadarshini Colony Sector- D vs. State Of Uttar Pradesh,

    Original Application No. 654/2022

    Interim compensation of 10 crores on Lucknow municipal corporation


    Suo Motu Action In Illegal Dumping vs. Union Of India,

    Original Application No. 817/2022

    EC of 10 crores on Northern Coal Field


    Ravi Shankar Mandal vs. Ministry Of Environment Forest, Original Application No. 19/2021/EZ

    EC of 10 crores on railways


    Salman Qasmi vs. State Of Rajasthan, Original Application No. 558/2022

    Interim compensation of 100 crores on State of Rajasthan


    Sanjeev Kumar vs. Uttar Pradesh Pollution, Original Application No.884/2022

    EC of 50 crores on PP’s


    In re: News item published in The Hindu dated 02.01.2023 titled "2 workers killed, 17 injured in Nashik Chemical Factory fire", Original Application No. 28/2023

    EC on PP of 25 crores


    Krishna Das K V vs. State Of Kerala, Original Application No. 147/2022

    EC of 10 crores on State of Kerala


    In re : News item published in Hindustan Times dated 03.06.2022 titled "178 women workers fall ill after gas leak in Andhra's Visakhapatnam", Original Application No. 448/2022

    EC of 10 crores on PP


    Akhil Bhartiya Mangela Samaj vs. Maharashtra Pollution Control, Original Application No. 64/2016 (WZ)

    i) EC of 2 crores on Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation

    ii) Total EC of 279 crores on multiple industries


    Kumar City Residents vs. Kumar Urban Development Pvt. Ltd.,Original Application No. 66/2019 (WZ)

    i) EC of 33.75 crores on Kumar Urban Development Pvt. Ltd.

    ii) EC of 2 crores on Pune Municipal Corporation


    Heilgers Chem Pvt Ltd vs. Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control, Appeal No.17/2020

    EC of Rs. 25,52,34,375/ on Appellant


    Chandni Chemicals Pvt Ltd vs. Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control, Appeal No. 14/2020

    EC of Rs. 23,09,31,000/ on Appellant


    Rukmini Chemicals Ltd vs Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control, Appeal No. 16/2020

    EC of Rs. 13,69,56,375/- on Appellant


    Manorama Sharma & Anr vs. Tdi Infrastructure Ltd., Original Application No. 150/2020

    i) EC of Rs. 72 Crores on M/s. TDI Infrastructure Ltd. for TDI Kingsburry Apartments), G.T. Road, Sonipat

    ii) EC of 10.8 crores M/s. TDI Infrastructure Ltd. for My Floor 2, Sector-60, Sonipat

    iii) EC of 12.28 crores on M/s. TDI Infrastructure Ltd. for Tuscan City, Sector-58, Sonipat

    iv) EC of 17.1 crores on M/s. Parker Estate Development Pvt. Ltd., Sector-61, Kundli, Sonipat

    v) EC of 40.48 crores on M/s. CMD Built-Tech Pvt. Ltd. (Ushay Towers), (now Pardesi Developers Pvt. Ltd.) Sector-61, Kundli, Sonipat

    vi) EC of 1 crore on M/s. Narang Constructions Pvt. Ltd., Sector-62, Kundli, Sonipat


    T.S. Singh vs. State Of Uttar Pradesh, Original Application No. 490/2019

    EC of 100 crores on State of Uttar Pradesh


    Poonam Yadav vs. Ms Ecogreen Energy Private, Original Application No. 172/2021

    EC of 100 crores on State of Haryana


    In re: News item published in The Times of India dated 12th April, 2022, titled "Six killed in chemical factory blast in Gujarat", Original Application No.272/2022

    EC of Rs. 1,74,83,800/ to be recovered


    Om Puri & Ors vs. Hindustan Zinc Ltd., Original Application No. 226/2020

    EC of Rs. 25 crores on Hindustan Zinc Ltd.


    Joginder Bhandari vs. Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir, Original Application No. 301/2021

    EC of Rs. 1 crore each on M/s. AFCONS Infrastructure Limited and M/s. L&T Limited


    Raja Muzaffar Bhat vs. Union of India & Ors., Original Application No. 241/2021

    i) EC of 32 Crore for discharge of untreated sewage in the drain.
    ii.) EC of Rs.3 crore for failure to process solid waste


    Arvind Pundalik Mhatre vs. Ministry of Environment and Forest & Climate Change & Ors., Original Application No. 125/2018

    i) Interim compensation of 5 crores to be deposited by CETP operator vide order dated 11.04.2018
    ii) Further compensation of 5 crores imposed on CETP operator for failure to abate pollution

    iii) Compensation of 5 crores imposed on MIDC


    Threat to life arising out of coal mining in south garo hills district vs. State of Meghalaya & Ors., Original Application No. 110(THC)/2012

    Interim compensation of 100 crores imposed on State of Meghalaya


    Sobha Singh & Ors. vs. State of Punjab & Ors.,

    Original Application No. 916/2018

    Compensation of 50 crores on State of Punjab for discharge of untreated effluents in river Sutlej and Beas.


    Court on its own Motion vs. State of Karnataka, Original Application No. 125/2017

    i) State Government to deposit 500 crow in an escrow account for execution of action plan

    ii) State government to deposit 50 crores with CPCB

    iii) BBMP to deposit 50 crores.

    iv) BWSSB to deposit 25 crores


    H.P. Ranjanna vs. Union of India, Appeal No. 54/2018

    EC imposed for damage to environment calculated as 10% of project cost(310 crores). EC imposed 31 crores.


    Mahakar Singh vs. State of Uttar Pradesh, Original Application No. 549/2019

    EC of 113.25 crores on M/s. Uppal Chadha Hi Tech Developers Pvt. Ltd


    Mahendra Singh vs. State of Haryana & Ors., Original Application No. 667/2018

    Total EC of 68 crores levied on 343 Stone Crushers (20 lakh per stone crusher)


    Noorul Sehar Lari vs. State of U. P. & Ors., Original Application No. 170/2021

    EC of 7.5 crores on State of Uttar Pradesh.


    Citizens for Green Doon vs. Union of India & Ors., Appeal No. 29/2021

    EC of 1 crore on NHAI

    Total : 2335.87 Crore Rupees

    Waste Management

    The NGT has delivered numerous orders on waste management in the years either against the Union Government or the State Governments or private entities. Notwithstanding the other orders, the 18th May 2023[2] order would embark on a robust paradigm of environmental jurisprudence accomplishing legislative policy. The NGT as per the order of the Supreme Court in Almitra H. Patel vs. Union of India & Ors.[3] and Paryavaran Suraksha vs. Union of India[4] has been unswervingly monitoring the solid and liquid waste management since 2014. The Supreme Court in Dr. B.L Wadhera v. UOI[5] held that “…the Authorities entrusted with the work of pollution control cannot be permitted to sit back with folded hands on the pretext that they have no financial or other means to control pollution and protect the environment.” However, even after 27 years of such strong ruling of the apex court, the waste management has only gone worse, notwithstanding the noble Swachh Bharat Abhiyan of the central government.

    The 18th May 2023 Order

    In compliance of the directions of the Supreme Court in the Almitra H. Patel case and Paryavaran Suraksha case, the NGT, after going through the Annual Report of the CPCB, found serious deficiencies in compliance of the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 (hereinafter ‘the Rules’) in most of the States. The Tribunal also took cognizance of the numerous grievances received with photographic evidence of heaps of garbage lying on the streets seeking coercive measures against the statutory authorities for their failures. The Tribunal also found that India generates over 150,000 tones of municipal solid waste (MSW) per day, but only 83% of waste is collected and less than 30% is treated the impact of which would be devastating for the health of the citizens and the human environment.[6] The Tribunal further observed that “either no Action Plans had been prepared as required under the Rules or the plans prepared proposed only 50% to 75% waste disposal as per Rules.”[7] The result was accumulation of legacy waste in the form of huge dumps of garbage and unscientific disposal of waste ultimately effecting public health, degrading water bodies and forests and air pollution.

    The Tribunal vide order dated 16.01.2019, sought personal presence of Chief Secretaries of all States and UTs on different dates with data of compliance status in respective State/UT and also directed to constitute a Special Task Force (STF) wherein amongst other members one person to be nominated by the Chairman of the District Legal Services Authority (DLSA). Further, the Tribunal directed setting up of environmental cells directly under the Chief Secretaries of the States and UTs. On 12.09.2019, the Tribunal reviewed the compliance report and observed wide gaps in compliance of solid waste, plastic waste, bio-medical waste management, etc. Thus, another round of appearance for the Chief Secretaries of the States and UTs was ordered. Despite the pandemic, Chief Secretaries of 18 States/UTs appeared in the second round wherein the Tribunal ordered that continued failure to comply with the Rules and Orders of the Tribunal would result in liability of every Local Body to pay compensation at the rate of Rs. 10 lakh per month per Local Body for population of above 10 lakhs, Rs. 5 lakh per month per Local Body for population between 5 lakhs and 10 lakhs and Rs. 1 lakh per month per other Local Body till compliance.[8] In view of the pandemic lockdown the Tribunal rescheduled the appearance of the remaining Chief Secretaries from January – February 2021. The Tribunal ordered the Chief Secretaries to file quarterly status reports with CPCB and the CPCB to file a consolidated report every six months before the Tribunal.

    On 30.11.2021 the Tribunal on reviewing the reports found huge gaps. The Tribunal found that the gap in generation and processing of solid waste was to the extent of about 56400 TPD (about 60,000 TPD) and legacy waste figure was mentioned at 18.55 crore tones. On the issue of liquid waste management, the gap shown was 17.26 MLD. However, the Tribunal found that the data was not conclusive and hence require further verification. Thus, a third round of appearances to the Chief Secretaries of the 36 States and UTs was ordered from July 2022 to May 2023

    In the third round the Tribunal found that the solid waste generation of all States and UTs was 170228.45 TPD out of which 113397.05 TPD were processed by various methods, predominantly composting.[10] The unprocessed waste was 55884.32 TPD adding to the legacy waste on daily basis to un-remediated legacy waste of 180288669 lakh MT (more than 18 crore).[11] On the liquid waste, the Tribunal found that sewage generation of all States and UTs was 52644.003 MLD, treatment capacity was 31885.138 MLD but actual utilization is only 22491.018 MLD. Thus, gap in treatment was 25995.257 MLD which goes into the sources of potable waters – rivers, lakes, wetlands, water bodies and storm water drains.[12] By applying the Polluter Pays Principle, the Tribunal imposed penalty on the scale of Rs. 2 crore per MLD for gap in respect of liquid waste and Rs. 300 per MT for gap in respect of legacy waste. Thus, a total of Rs. 79234.36 crores as environmental compensation was imposed on the States and UTs except Goa, Lakshadweep and Dadra and Nagar Haveli & Daman and Diu and Andaman & Nicobar. The Tribunal also directed the States and UTs to file six monthly status reports.

    The Principal Bench coram of Adarsh Kumar Goel, CP, Sudhir Agarwal, JM and Dr. A. Senthil Vel, EM in their conclusion observed that “There are statutory Rules and policies like swachh bharat but action on the ground is inadequate….Our conclusion is that enacting laws and directions of Courts/Tribunals are not substitute for good governance and unless the Administration accords high priority of the subject, undesirable situation as found may not be remedied.” The Bench also expressed their hope that “the Ministries of Central Government will perform their statutory obligation under the rules, apart from monitoring compliance by the concerned States/UTs.”[13] The Bench entrusted the responsibility of coordination and monitoring of compliance of waste management norms by the States/UTs on behalf of CPCB to Dr. A.B. Akolkar, former Member Secretary, CPCB.

    The problem of waste management in our nation is one of the major environmental issues that require urgent attention not only by concerned government departments but also by all sections of the society. Acknowledging the arduous task of the administration, the Tribunal in its Order dated 18.05.2023 observed “Segregation of biodegradable waste and its processing closest to the point of generation is a task which requires good governance and according of high priority.” Thus, the solution to the problem is not only the responsibility of the administration but all the citizens of the nation. To reduce the burden of the administration, the Tribunal in its order dated 11.05.2023 has precisely pointed out the involvement of community – welfare associations, corporates, religious, educational and charitable institutions in planning and execution of waste management may reduce the financial and administrative load on the administration. In addition to community involvement, the Tribunal in its Order dated 16.01.2019 has observed “This is possible only if such instructions are issued on the administrative side by the NALSA and concerned Education Departments of the States.” Again by its Order dated 08.02.2023, the Tribunal held that “……involving citizens – the youth, house-wives and senior citizens in guiding tourists in maintaining cleanliness and hygiene. The taxi drivers and bus drivers may also be involved in creating awareness among the tourists.” Such observations of the Tribunal are indispensable to incorporate in the administrative policies and agendas and execute ardently and should not be considered as an obiter dictum frustrating the judicial effort in building of the nation and restoring rule of law.

    In pronouncing the present Order (In re: Compliance of Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 and other environmental issues, Original Application No. 606/2018), the Tribunal has undertaken an arduous task but a tremendous work reminding the executive of their duties delegated by the legislature. Perhaps, it is the first time since independence a Tribunal has summoned all the Chief Secretaries of the Indian States and UTs and compelled them to furnish data on waste management of their respective States and UTs and to steer Governance as per the legislative enactments and government policies. This Order also reflects the fulfillment of the objective of the establishment of NGT for expeditious disposal of cases and the Polluter Pays Principle and Environment Compensation (EC) for restoration of environment. The Order also portrays the unprecedented efforts of the Tribunal in complying with the directions of the apex court and attending to environmental grievances of individual citizens. Nevertheless, the present issues arise due to the casualness of the state administration, hence, assigning periodical monitoring by the top State and districts officials posses a question of efficient compliance and reporting.

    The judiciary has no power over sword or the purse and thus this practical implementation gap in environment and ecology management needs to be remedied by legislative enactments and amendments under the law supported by strong commitment of the implementing agencies. However, the almost three decade’s long issue on waste management appears to be resolving with this insightful approach of the Tribunal.

    The author is an Assistant Professor at Faculty of Law, University of Delhi. Views are personal.

    * The author acknowledges with gratitude the advice and administrative assistance of Senior Prof. Usha Tandon, Head & Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Delhi.

    [1] Source: Office of the NGT, New Delhi.

    [2] In re: Compliance of Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 and other environmental issues, Original Application No. 606/2018,

    [3] Writ Petition No. 888/1996.

    [4] (2017) 5 SCC 326.

    [5] (1996) 2 SCC 594.

    [6] Supra Note 2 at Para 4.

    [7]Id. at Para 8.

    [8] Id. Order dated May 18, 2023 at Para 11.

    [9] Id. at Para 16.

    [10] Id. at Para 23.

    [11] Ibid.

    [12] Id. at Para 25.

    [13] Id. at Para 33.

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