Major environment orders (March 21, 2023)

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Down To Earth brings you the top environmental cases heard in the Supreme Court, the high courts and the National Green Tribunal  

Brahmapuram blaze

Nearly 72 milligrams of dioxin were released from Kochi’s Brahmapuram waste disposal facility in 2019, an applicant said in an affidavit submitted before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on March 20, 2023.

The applicant cited a 2019 report by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, which has been lying dormant for more than four years without any action from the concerned authorities. The tribunal was flooded with applications after the waste management plant under the city corporation caught fire on March 2, 2023.

The report, Brahmapuram, a dioxin bomb, found an average of 10.3 picograms (one-millionth of a gram) of dioxin per cubic metre of atmospheric air. 

The residents of Brahmapuram have been filing several applications since 2012 demanding the closure of the waste disposal facility. In addition, they requested appropriate remedial measures to restore the area to its original state as far as possible.

The applicant said the NGT, in 2018, had directed the corporation to undertake treatment of the legacy waste at Brahmapuram, “which shall commence forthwith and shall be carried out in accordance with the procedure laid down under the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016.”

Despite repeated directions from the tribunal and other statutory authorities, the corporation failed to take necessary actions.

The waste disposal facility here was found to be operating in blatant violation of the Solid Waste Management Rules and other environmental laws.

The applicant said the corporation continues to be a “wilful perpetual defaulter,” which has resulted in an uncontrollable fire at Brahmapuram on several occasions. 

The tribunal had recently imposed an environmental compensation of Rs 100 crore on the local body for the continued neglect of its duties.

Mrugavani National Park

Requisite permissions were taken before laying electric transmission towers through Mrugavani National Park, said Transmission Corporation of Telangana Limited (TSTRANSCO) in its affidavit submitted before the NGT on March 20. A plea was filed before the NGT against the same.

TSTRANSCO had erected an approximately 1,458-long high-voltage line from Kethireddypally-Rayadurg through forest land, for which the forest department cleared many trees.

TSTRANSCO had already paid the required amount to divert the equivalent forest land of 6.7076 hectares. The forest department and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change granted the requisite approvals, and work was commenced on receipt of permission, the affidavit stated.

Pollution in Perandoor, Edappally canals

Kerala State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) have taken steps to identify the industries and establishments located along the banks of the Perandoor and Edappally canals, Ernakulam, said the state government in a report filed before the NGT on March 20.

Some 167 apartments/ restaurants were identified to be operating without sewage treatment facilities or valid consents from the SPCB.

Notices have been issued to these units under the Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.

The SPCB has issued a show cause notice to Kochi Corporation “to show reasons for not levying environmental compensation for the failure of preventing the pollutants being discharged in water bodies and failure to implement waste management rules.”

The railway station at Ernakulam Junction is identified as a major contributor to pollution in the Perandoor canal.

An integrated consent to operate was issued to the railway station on the condition of agreeing to set up a sewage treatment plant. But no such plant is in place, and the area behind the loco shed is polluted by oil discharged from the facility., the report said.

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