The National Green Tribunal has directed the inspection of areas around a paper mill in Nainital after a plea alleged the release of toxic liquid and solid waste into the reserve forest near it.

A bench headed by acting Chairperson Justice U D Salvi ordered central and Uttarakhand pollution control boards to jointly inspect and collect soil and water samples from the areas around the Century Pulp and Paper mill and the adjacent Gaula river within a month.

The green panel also directed the paper unit to install Mark II hand pumps at the villages of Bindukhatta and Shantipuri along the Paha drain in Udham Singh Nagar district of Uttarakhand within two months.

Mark II is a human-powered pump designed to lift water from a depth of fifty metres or less.

“We direct Kamlesh Singh, scientist D from Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), who has been the part of the joint inspection team to point out the locations for installation of hand pumps to the Century Pulp and Paper Mill within a week.

“Respondent no 6 (Paper mill) is further directed to de- sludge the Paha nallah as suggested in remedial action plan and finish the work before onset of monsoon. Sludge removed shall be disposed of as per the advice of CPCB,” the bench said.

The NGT also directed the paper mill to submit a status report regarding the use of the treated effluents before March 16, the next date of hearing.

The tribunal had in 2016 directed the unit to pay Rs 30 lakh as environmental compensation for failing to manage pollution caused by effluents discharged from the mill.

It had also set up a team of senior scientists from the department of Environment Science, University of Jammu, CPCB and IIT Roorkee, to carry out survey and study of the area and the Gaula river to ascertain environmental degradation caused and suggest remedial measures for restoration of environment.

The NGT was hearing a plea of environmentalist Gauri Maulekhi, filed through advocate Rahul Choudhary, seeking directions to immediately stop discharge of harmful toxic effluents in the forest areas.