The National Green Tribunal, while directing State Pollution Control Boards and Pollution Control Committees to take meaningful action against Polluters in Industrial areas, said "Violators of law cannot be allowed to have a free run at the core of environment and public health. Inaction by the statutory authorities is at the cost of Rule of Law, which is the mandate of the Constitution and is necessary for meaningful enforcement of legitimate constitutional rights of citizens and basic duty of a welfare State under the Constitution."
" A bench led by Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel were unhappy with the compliance report filed by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), on the steps taken to control pollution in Critically Polluted Areas (CPA's) and Severely Polluted Areas (SPA's), the bench said "Mechanism circulated by the CPCB, proposes environmental management of CPAs and SPAs and the mitigation measures proposed. While every mitigation measures must be taken, this cannot be ground not to take any legal action for violation of law. The status report does not refer to compliance of directions for taking coercive measures for enforcement of the Air Act, the Water Act and the EPA Act by prohibiting operation of polluting activities and assessing and recovering compensation on 'Polluter Pays' principle, including interim compensation."
The tribunal has directed the boards to file action taken reports showing the number of identified polluters in polluted industrial areas mentioned above, the extent of closure of polluting activities, the extent of environmental compensation recovered, the cost of restoration of the damage to the environment of the said areas. The bench said "Otherwise there will be no meaningful environmental governance. This may be failure of rule of law and breach of trust reposed in statutory authorities rendering their existence useless and burden on society."
Tribunal warned that if such compliance is not done it will have no option except to proceed against the Chairmen and the Member Secretaries of State PCBs/PCCs by way of coercive action under Section 25 of the National Green Tribunal Act, read with Section 51 CPC. Such action may include replacement of persons heading such PCBs/PCCs or direction for stopping their salaries till meaningful action for compliance of the order of this Tribunal. The Tribunal may also consider deterrent compensation to be recovered from the State PCBs/PCCs.
The Tribunal directed the State PCB's and PCC's to file their compliance report with the CPCB by January 31, 2020. The CPCB may prepare a tabulated analysis of the same and file a consolidated report before this Tribunal before February 15.
The directions were given during the hearing of a plea filed in response to a daily newspaper. Highlighting the issue of remedial action required for control of pollution in identified polluted industrial clusters.