The National Green Tribunal has on Thursday held that industrial units required to get an Environment Clearance under EIA notification cannot operate without prior EC, and the State has no power to either exempt the requirement of prior EC or to allow the units to function without EC on payment of compensation.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel made the observations while hearing an application filed by NGO Dastak seeking quashing of the order of State of Haryana dated 10th November 2020 allowing manufacturers of formaldehyde, that require prior Environmental Clearance (EC), to operate for six months without EC, subject to making application for EC within 60 days.
The Tribunal observed that if Environment Clearance is required under an EIA Notification dated September 14, 2006 , there is no justification to permit function of such units in violation of mandate of law.
"We are of the view that since prior EC is statutory mandate, the same must be complied" the Bench said.
The Bench also made note of the Supreme Court's order in the case of Alembic Chemicals v Rohit Prajapati & Ors., where the Court made it clear that prior EC requirement cannot be dispensed with.
The Bench observed that since prior EC is statutory mandate and must be complied, the Respondent units involved in the present matter, cannot be allowed to function till compliance, and the concerned authorities are free to take appropriate action in accordance with polluter pays principle, following due process.
Submissions By The Parties: The applicant in the present case, submitted that the requirement of prior Environmental Clearance is mandatory, and the State has no jurisdiction to exempt the same.
The applicant stated that the industries are using ground water of approximately 6 Lakhs litres per day without requisite permission of the Ground Water Authority, and there has been non-compliance of Manufacture, Storage, and Import of Hazardous Chemicals Rules, 1989.
The applicant further argued that there have also been incidents of damage to the crops, soil and ground water for which no adequate compensation has been recovered, and untreated effluents are being dumped back into the ground water through reverse borewells.
The State of Haryana argued before the Tribunal that the units were granted interim relief as the notification dated 14th September 2006 (which requires process of manufacturing of Formaldehyde to receive prior Environmental Clearance) is being re-drafted by MoEF & CC and the zero draft has been circulated to all the States and other Stake holders for comments.
[Dastak NGO vs Synochem Organics Pvt. Ltd. & Ors.]