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NGT Imposes ₹3 Crore Penalty On J&K Govt Over Pollution In Doodh Ganga & Mamath Kull

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
10 March 2022 12:30 PM GMT
NGT Imposes ₹3 Crore Penalty On J&K Govt Over Pollution In Doodh Ganga & Mamath Kull
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The Principal Bench of Nation Green Tribunal (NGT) on Tuesday imposed a penalty of Rs. 3 Crore on the Jammu and Kashmir Govt for failure to prevent illegal mining, discharge of sewage and dumping of solid waste into river Doodh Ganga and Mamath Kull. The order issued in the matter of Raja Muzaffar Bhat Applicant Versus Union of India & Ors. reads that this inaction from the part...

The Principal Bench of Nation Green Tribunal (NGT) on Tuesday imposed a penalty of Rs. 3 Crore on the Jammu and Kashmir Govt for failure to prevent illegal mining, discharge of sewage and dumping of solid waste into river Doodh Ganga and Mamath Kull.

The order issued in the matter of Raja Muzaffar Bhat Applicant Versus Union of India & Ors. reads that this inaction from the part of the authorities is in violation of provisions of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, judgment of Supreme Court in Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti Vs. Union of India (2017) 5 SCC 326, and also series of orders of the NGT.

Notably, the penalty of Rs.1 Crore each has been slashed under three different heads:

"We find that neither the dumping of solid waste nor discharge of untreated sewage has been prevented nor illegal mining stopped and nor legacy waste cleared for which statutory timelines have already expired. The State is accordingly held liable to pay interim compensation of Rs. One crore each under all the three heads which may be deposited in a separate account to be utilized for restoration of environment."

The Tribunal further added that the State may recover the amount from the polluters/erring officers. With respect to illegal mining, the Tribunal has directed the State Pollution Control Board to recover the loss caused to the State in the form of value of minerals as well as the loss caused to the environment for undertaking such activity without requisite clearances. This is in furtherance of the judgment of Supreme Court in the case of Goa Foundation v. Union of India & Ors. (2014) 6 SCC 590 and Common Cause v. UOI & Ors., (2017) 9 SCC 499.

The bench led by Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel further directed the Chief Secretary, J&K to file an action report within three months, wherein the report shall specify status of facilities to treat sewage as well as fecal sludges, protection of flood plain, lifting of waste from the banks of Doodh ganga and Mamath Kull. The Tribunal has also directed Principal Secretary, Urban Development, J&K to remain present in person on the next date of hearing.

Background

The order was issued wrt a matter pertaining to river Doodh Ganga, which is a tributary of Jhelum River, and Mamath Kull. The applicants alleged that there was a failure on the part of the authorities to prevent illegal mining, discharge of sewage and dumping of solid waste into river Doodh Ganga and Mamath Kull. They further submitted that large quantities of pesticides were flown into the river from the Apple Orchards and there was also serious violations from the part of Srinagar Municipal Corporation, among other violations.

The Tribunal which had found prima facie violation of environmental norms when the matter was considered on 18.10.2022, had directed the authorities to take remedial action and had also constituted a five-member Joint Committee of CPCB, J&K PCC, Deputy Commissioners, Srinagar and Budgam and the Director, Urban Local Bodies, J&K. The Joint Committee further filed its report wherein it acknowledged the rampant violations of environmental norms.

"The violations found include dumping of waste on the banks of the river, discharge of untreated sewage into the river, unregulated illegal mining activities and failure to protect the embankments of the river. The report signed by the Additional Secretary to the Government, Housing and Urban Development Department," the order states.

'Not Merely Ignorance Of Law But Failure Of Responsibility'

The Tribunal in its order noted that the State's failure to take action against the series of violation reflect its apathy towards its obligation under the Constitution of India and termed it as a 'serious violation'. The Tribunal also took note of the irresponsible attitude of authorities wherein it does not take action, and keep on waiting for funds from outside agencies. In this light the tribunal noted, "It is for the State to arrange resources for its inalienable and basic responsibility. On that pretext, damage to the environment cannot be allowed to take place or to continue." The bench observed that this is not merely ignorance of law but failure of responsibility on the part of authorities.

The matter is listed for further consideration on 15.07.2022.

Case Title: Raja Muzaffar Bhat Applicant Versus Union of India & Ors.

Case No: Original Application No. 241/2021

Coram: Hon'ble Mr. Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel,

Chairperson Hon'ble Mr. Justice Sudhir Agarwal,

Judicial Member Hon'ble Prof. A. Senthil Vel, Expert Member

Date of hearing: 08.03.2022

Click Here To Read/Download Order


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