Penalty of Rs. 5 Crores imposed upon Simbhaoli Sugar Mills for polluting River Ganga

National Green Tribunal (NGT): While applying “polluter pays principle”, NGT imposed a penalty of Rs. 5 Crores upon Simbhaoli Sugar Mills and Distillery, a sugar manufacturing unit, for directly causing water pollution in the River Ganga, particularly, between Garh Mukteshwar and Narora, due to discharge of highly toxic and harmful effluents. NGT also slapped a fine of Rs. 25 Lakh on Gopalji Milk Food & Pvt. Ltd., a dairy products manufacturing unit for polluting River Ganga due to discharging untreated effluents into the Simbhaoli drain. The order imposing penalties came upon the petition filed jointly by an environmentalist and a Greater Noida based organisation working in the field of environment, Social Action for Forest & Environment (SAFE). It was alleged in the petition that the sugar mill discharged untreated effluents into the drain which finally joins the River Ganga and the other unit Gopalji Dairy which is producing milk and milk products of different kinds, also discharges untreated effluents in the same Simbhaoli drain. It was further alleged that the contamination from discharge of trade effluents is so high that it not only pollutes the Syana Escape canal and the River Ganga but also threatens the life of endangered aquatic species such as dolphins, turtles and other aquatic life. Allegations regarding pollution of the groundwater of villages from where the river passes through were also imposed in the application. After perusal of all material on record, NGT held that the sugar unit is responsible “… for causing great environmental pollution of different water bodies including the Phuldera drain, the Syana escape canal, the river Ganga and even the groundwater in and around the area of this industrial unit. Besides scientific data of inspection by experts, officers of the Pollution Control Board, analysis report and the fact that the water in the Phuldera drain had turned brown, even to the naked eye, demonstrates the extent of pollution caused by this unit.” NGT further added that, “this unit has operated without consent of the Boards from1974 till the year 1991, thereafter; it committed default in compliance of the conditions of the consent right up to the year 2000. Even thereafter, it did not strictly comply with the conditions and directions issued by the respective Boards. This unit is a direct source of polluting River Ganga.” While NGT directed the sugar unit to pay a compensation of Rs.5 crore to the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) for restoration and restitution of the degraded and damaged environment and for causing pollution of different water bodies, particularly the river Ganga, the Bench took a liberal view for the dairy unit and imposed compensation of Rs. 25 Lakh as the unit “had made serious efforts to check pollution,” and had also assured compliance to orders and becoming a non-polluting unit. (Krishan Kant Singh v. National Ganga River Basin Authority, 2014 SCC OnLine NGT 2364, decided on October 16, 2014)

To read the full judgment, refer SCCOnLine

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