Principal bench of National Green Tribunal observed that "Industrial development cannot be done on the graves of human beings and should not be at the cost of "air and water quality", while directing the Haryana government to shorten the period of inspection of polluting factories and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to follow the same in 19 other states, with similar policy, regarding inspections.
A bench led by Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said "Needless to say that while industrial development in a sustainable manner is necessary, it cannot be at the cost of air and water quality which are the means of sustenance of life. The industrial development cannot be on the graves of human beings." The observation was made after the Chief Secretary of Haryana Government referred to ease of doing business initiatives to encourage industrial development.
The bench said "There can be no objection to bureaucratic procedures and hassles being relaxed, simplified and shortened and industrial growth and employment generation programmes being encouraged but at the same time, such initiatives are to be balanced against deterioration of air and water quality which must be protected."
The Tribunal in its order said, "We are of the view that there is a need for further reduction of period of inspections and increase in frequency with regard to 'highly polluting 17 category', 'red category' and 'orange category'. Vigilance is also required on 'green category' to verify that 'green' status is being genuinely used."
It has directed Haryana government that the period of mandatory inspections in highly polluting 17 Category would be three months, Red Category in six months, Orange Category in a year and green category in two years. "This will not dispense with inspections wherever situations so require in the wisdom of the Board and environmental exigencies. The conditions for grant/ renewal of consents may be placed in public domain consistent with the spirit of Section 25(6) of the Water Act and corresponding provision of the Air Act."
The direction came during the hearing of a petition filed by Shailesh Singh, seeking a direction to close industrial units running without the requisite statutory consent under Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.
The Haryana Government and CPCB has been told to increase the frequency of inspections may undertake capacity enhancement out of consent funds by procuring requisite equipment, setting up of modern labs and recruiting/engaging staff and experts. It said " No authority in the Government will obstruct such exercise so that requisite steps for protection of environment and public health are not hampered."
The Tribunal posted the matter for further hearing on February 11, 2020 and directed to file compliance reports, before the next date by email.