Maharashtra PCB Slapped ₹ 1 Crore Cost By NGT For Non Compliance Of Directions [Read Order]

Maharashtra PCB Slapped ₹ 1 Crore Cost By NGT For Non Compliance Of Directions [Read Order]

The Principal Bench of National Green Tribunal at New Delhi has imposed a cost of Rupees One Crore on the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board for its failure to comply with its directions to act against polluting industries.

In a judgment passed on December 18, 2015, the Tribunal had directed the MPCB to prepare a comprehensive action plan to control air pollution in Mahul, Ambapada and Chembur areas, with a focus on control of Volatile Organic compounds (VOC) emissions and associated adverse health impacts on the surrounding population, within a period of two months from the date of judgment. The applicants were residents of Mahul, who were fighting against air pollution by various companies in the vicinity, including Sealord Containers Ltd, BPCL, HPCL, and Rashtriya Chemical and Fertiliser Ltd, since 2014. The NGT had also imposed a fine of five lakhs each on the polluting companies.

Though the judgment was challenged in the Supreme Court, the SC declined interference, and held that the NGT directions deserved to be implemented expeditiously.

On failure of PCB to act as per directions, the applicants filed an Execution Application in 2016. The Tribunal constituted a special committee comprising six scientists for preparation of action plan to control air pollution.  The Tribunal noted that the Board was not sincere in acting as per the directions and recommendations of the Committee. The Tribunal shockingly observed that the Board had outsourced the task of assessing VOC emission to a private entity, ignoring the expertise of Central Pollution Control Board in the matter. "One fails to understand, that if the CPCB itself was having such eminently qualified  person then what was the need of outsourcing VOC monitoring", observed the bench of Justice Raghuvendra S Rathore, Judicial Member and Dr.Satyawan Singh Garbyal, Expert Member.

On August 31, the MPCB moved an application before the NGT asking for time till December 31 to submit the report. But the NGT rejected the application and asked the MPCB to submit its report by October 17, posting the matter for hearing on October 25.

When the case was posted on October 25, the Board sought for further time, which was not well received by the Bench. "This is nothing but a game of hide and seek being played by Maharashtra PCB at different times as per their  convenience", the Tribunal said.

Therefore, the Tribunal imposed a cost of Rupees one crore on the MPCB, which has to be deposited with the fund created by CPCB  for environmental restoration. The cost has been directed to be paid by November 1. The Tribunal also directed that the Member Secretary of MPCB should be personally present for the next hearing on November 15.

Read Order