Major environment orders (May 23, 2024)

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

NGT directs DJB to supply treated effluent for maintenance of 13 parks in Shahdara

National Green Tribunal (NGT), on May 22, 2024, directed Delhi Jal Board (DJB) to supply treated effluent to Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) for the maintenance of 13 parks in Shahdara. This will be an interim arrangement for the survival of vegetation until a project, in consultation with the authorities / agencies, concerned  has been executed by DJB.

Until then, MCD was directed to irrigate the affected parks with water tankers that brought treated water from DJB’s sewage treatment plant. The Jal Board was asked to prepare the project in consultation with the authorities / agencies concerned and execute it by seeking the requisite allocation of funds, issuing tenders / work orders and completing the project in phases.

DJB was directed to ensure that at least phase one of the project was completed before June 30, 2025.

MCD, Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and other stakeholders were directed to coordinate and cooperate in the execution of the project. The chief secretary for national capital territory of Delhi, was directed to hold periodic meetings at appropriate intervals with DJB chairman of the Delhi Jal Board, DDA vice-chairman, MCD commissioner and other stakeholders / authorities to resolve any issues.

The authorities were also asked to take all requisite administrative and financial measures to complete the project work in phases, ensuring the completion of at least phase one of the project within the stipulated time of one year and the remaining phases of the project within a reasonable time, the NGT judgment said.

The secretary general of the federation of Indraprasth extension-II housing societies submitted the application in the form of a letter petition. The applicant complained that 13 neighbourhood parks had been transferred to the East Delhi Municipal Corporation from the DDA. The horticulture department has closed 473 borewells/tubewells under NGT orders.

These parks were the societies’ lungs and the closure of the borewells/tubewells has had a negative impact on the environment in the area, where the AQI is consistently high. The applicant accordingly requested the restoration of the borewells / tubewells as a special exception for the development and maintenance of the parks in the neighbourhood.

“The question of restoration of the borewells and grant of permission for extraction of groundwater involved” lies within competence / jurisdiction of the district magistrate, Shahdara and has to be decided by taking into consideration the groundwater status and rainwater harvesting facilities in the area, the NGT order said.

The district magistrate was directed to consider the joint committee’s recommendation and issue orders on it within a month.

Cutting trees in reserve forest of Kundwara village, Jabalpur

A letter application concerning the indiscriminate cutting of trees from a reserve forest land in Kundwara village in Kundam forest range, Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh (MP), was taken up by NGT on May 21, 2024. 

NGT stated that the letter petition raised substantial issues relating to compliance with environmental norms and directed that notices be issued to MP Pollution Control Board; principal chief conservator of forests, MP; Bhopal office of Union Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change; Raju Singh Thakur; forest guard Sanjay Haldkar and district magistrate, Jabalpur. 

All respondents were directed to file their responses at least one week before the next hearing (July 19, 2024) before the central zonal bench, Bhopal.

The application was registered on the basis of a letter petition received from Ram Sujan Yadav and other residents of Tikariya, Kundam tehsil. The letter petition complained about the cutting of trees in Kundwara’s reserve forest land, which covered approximately 20 acres.

The petition alleged that one Raju Singh Thakur, along with forest guard Sanjay Haldkar, had illegally taken possession of the forest land and had cut down Sagon and Satktha trees to cultivate the land. It was stated that one of them is a head constable in the MP Special Armed Force and that the accused are also involved in illegal digging using a tractor and dumper. 

The petition further accused the two of  cutting trees in the reserve forest, selling them and attempting to seize 20 acres of reserve forest land.

Construction activities in green zone of Delhi

Member secretary of Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) was directed by NGT on May 21, 2024 to investigate the complaint of illegal construction activities within the green zones and wooded areas of Sultanpur village, Delhi. 

The DPCC was asked to investigate the allegations, take appropriate corrective action if the allegations were found to be true and submit an action-taken report to the Registrar General of the tribunal within three months. A copy of this order, along with a copy of the letter petition, is to be forwarded to the member secretary, the order added.

The application was registered on the basis of a letter petition received from Sushil, a resident of Sultanpur. The allegation in the petition concerned unlawful plotting activities leading to deforestation and an increase in air and noise pollution in the vicinity.

It was alleged that in the last few months, there had been an alarming rise in construction activities within the complainant’s community, particularly within the green zones and wooded areas.

These construction activities have resulted in the illegal clearing of trees and vegetation, as well as the indiscriminate felling of trees, which not only violates environmental laws but also threatens the biodiversity of the area, the plea added. The complainant also annexed some photographs in support of the plea.

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