Holding the Karnataka State Government and the Municipal Council Bommasandra, liable for causing damage to the environment by not taking steps to prevent flow of untreated sewage into the Kithiganahalli lake. The National Green Tribunal has directed them to pay an interim, ad-hoc compensation of Rs 15.
A bench of Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said;
"There is huge damage by discharge of untreated sewage in water bodies and preventing the same is the duty of State authorities as Trustees of people's rights. Such duty is being clearly breached."
The bench has asked the state to pay compensation of Rs 10 lakh and the council to pay Rs 5 lakh, which has to be deposited in a month's time with the Central Pollution Control Board. The tribunal said it will be open to the State and the Municipal Council to recover the amount from the erring officers. The tribunal said the CPCB may spend the amount for restoration of the environment. The State PCB has also been told to initiate prosecution and may take remedial action expeditiously and discharge of any pollutant in the water body be stopped forthwith.
The directions were given while hearing an application filed by Dr Sanjay Rao and others. By an order dated September 25, 2019 a factual and action taken report was sought from the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board. The report submitted on February 18, acknowledged the damage to the lake by unregulated discharge of sewage by the Municipal Council, Bommasandra through open drains. Sewage is also flowing from the KIADB industrial area.
The bench said "In view of the acknowledged illegal discharge of sewage in violation of the provisions of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and solid waste in violation of the Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 framed under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, criminal offence is being committed by the concerned authorities in not stopping the discharge of pollutants and garbage in the water bodies."
Relying on the binding orders of the Supreme Court and previous orders of the tribunal on the subject of collecting and scientifically processing solid waste. Moreover, since the matter has been monitored by this Tribunal and several orders have been passed including two orders in the presence of Chief Secretary Karnataka. The bench said "Failure of such important constitutional obligation by the Municipal Council as well as apathy and defiance of orders of this Tribunal and the Hon'ble Supreme Court by State authorities is at the cost of environment and public health and is very unfortunate for which prompt remedial actions must be taken and accountability of erring officers fixed. Only writing a letter as is said to have been done is not the compliance of law. The stand taken can hardly be said to be a responsible one."
The tribunal has directed the concerned Additional Chief Secretary, Karnataka after coordinating with the concerned officers within three months and posted the matter for further hearing on November 4.
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