In a matter related to the dumping of solid waste in the catchment of Wular lake in Kashmir, the Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal that challenged National Green Tribunal's refusal to interfere with J&K State Pollution Control Committee's order imposing a penalty of Rs 64.21 Lakhs on Municipal Committee, Bandipora.
"We find no ground to interfere with the impugned order passed by the National Green Tribunal. The civil appeal is, accordingly, dismissed," the bench of Justice Ajay Rastogi and Justice C.T Ravikumar said in the order.
The civil appeal had been moved by the Chief Executive Officer of the local body. On October 21 last year, the NGT bench headed by its chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, while hearing a challenge against the order of the state PCC, said it remains undisputed that the municipal body did fail to scientifically manage the waste in terms of Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016.
Refusing to interfere with the order passed by the state PCC, the principal bench had said, "the amount recovered may be utilised for restoration of the environment by preparing an action plan with timelines by a joint Committee comprising State PCB and District Magistrate, Bandipora. The plan may be prepared within two months and executed within the stipulated timeline."
Wular Lake is the second largest fresh-water lake of Asia. In February 2021, the state PCC said Solid Waste was continuously being dumped at Zalwan Nassu site in close proximity with the district headquarter Bandipora and on the catchment of Wular lake near Zalwan Nallah in a "haphazard and unscientific manner by the Municipal Committee."
"Environmental Compensation under Polluter Pays Principle as per approved guidelines of the Central Pollution Control Board and the Hon'ble National Green Tribunal, to the tune of the Rs.64,21,000/- is hereby levied upon Executive Officer Municipal Committee, Bandipora for violation of Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 for the period commencing from the date show cause notice dated 26.06.2020 to 25.09.2020 i.e. the date of latest report of Regional Director, PCB, Kashmir," it had said in the order.
In 2019, activist Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat had filed an application in the NGT against dumping of waste and encroachment of Hokersar Wetland, Wular Lake and Kreentchoo-Chandhara Wetland in the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir. In the case, the NGT on August 27 in 2020 directed the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, state PCC/PCB and other authorities to ensure necessary action.
Title: CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, MUNICIPAL COUNCIL, BANDIPORA, KASHMIR v. JAMMU AND KASHMIR POLLUTION CONTROL BOARD