Hot Off The PressNews

National Green Tribunal (NGT): The Bench headed by the NGT Chairperson AK Goel J., while addressing a matter related to school’s violating the air and noise pollution norms directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to issue guidelines in regard to the stated issue.

The Bench stated that “Secretary MoEF should have an interaction by way of video-conferencing or otherwise with the education departments of all the states in association with the pollution control boards or the Central Pollution Control Board to issue appropriate guidelines to take care of the violation of environment norms by different educational institutions in the country”.

Hence, NGT directed MoEF to file a compliance report by email at filing.ngt@gmail.com within a period of 8 weeks.

[Source: PTI]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Concerned over a mining scandal of enormous proportions involving megabucks in the State of Odisha, the bench of Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta, JJ said that though the Court cannot lay down limits on the extent of mining activities that should be permitted by the State of Odisha or by the Union of India, this is an aspect that needs serious consideration by the policy and decision makers in our country in the governance structure. The Court hence, directed the Union of India to revisit the National Mineral Policy, 2008 and announce a fresh and more effective, meaningful and implementable policy within the next few months and in any event before 31st December, 2017.

Taking note of the indiscriminate mining operations in Odisha, the Court said there is no effective check on mining operations nor is there any effective mining policy. Regarding the National Mineral Policy, 2008, the Court said that the same seems to be only on paper and is not being enforced perhaps due to the involvement of very powerful vested interests or a failure of nerve. The Court also said that the Policy was almost a decade old and the variety of changes that have taken place since then, including the advent of rapacious mining in several parts of the country, it was necessary that a new updated Policy was brought in.

Directing the constitution of an Expert Committee under the guidance of a retired Supreme Court judge for identifying the lapses that have occurred over the years enabling rampant illegal or unlawful mining in Odisha and measures to prevent this from happening in other parts of the country, the Court said that undoubtedly, there have been very serious lapses that have enabled large scale mining activities to be carried out without forest clearance or environment clearance and eventually the persons responsible for this will need to be booked but as mentioned above, the violation of the laws and policy need to be prevented in other parts of the country. The rule of law needs to be established.

The Court issued the above directions in the light of the rapaciously mining of iron ore and manganese in the districts of Keonjhar, Sundergarh and Mayurbhanj in Odisha that has apparently destroyed the environment and forests and has caused untold misery to the tribals in the area. [Common Cause v. Union of India, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 857, decided on 02.08.2017]

 

Case BriefsEnvironmental LawHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Deciding on the issue of legality and validity of the fee schedule prescribed by the  Delhi Pollution Control Committee, wherein the petitioner Hotel was served with show-cause notices under Section 33-A of the Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and Section 31-A of the Air (Prevention Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 the learned Single Judge Manmohan, J., observed that a writ petition solely praying for refund of money against the State is not maintainable. The Court held that the present writ petition is liable to be dismissed not only on the grounds of statutory non-compliance of the environmental law, but also since the petitioner did not approach this Court with clean hands.

The petitioner had contended that under the threat of imminent closure and penal actions, it was forced to pay an amount of Rs 41 lakhs as condonation fee under protest, seeking consent to operate and that it was liable to pay Rs. 46,000 only as per the previous fee structure and sought for the refund of the remaining amount. The Court held that, to treat the omission on the part of petitioner to comply with the laws as innocent non-compliance trivializes the statutory provisions which has a vital and direct impact on the lives of the citizens. The petitioner continued to run his hotel without obtaining any “consent to establish” and “consent to operate” and without installation of any anti-pollution equipment for the past twenty years. Since a very important and salutary provision of the environmental law was not complied with by the petitioner, the Court decided not to entertain the writ petition in exercise of equitable jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution. The petition was dismissed. [Krishna Continental Ltd.v. Delhi Pollution Control Committee, 2016 SCC OnLine Del 3629, decided on May 2, 2016]