National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Chief Secretary of Haryana to deposit a sum of Rs 100 crore towards environmental compensation for continuing damage to the environment.
The bench headed by Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel also constituted a nine-member committee, to be headed by the Chairman of the Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB). The Committee may appraise the performance of the contractor engaged as per the Concession Agreement and if it is found that the contractor has failed to perform as expected, the Committee may make suitable alternative arrangements to replace the contractor, as previously observed by the Tribunal.
The Tribunal noted that the matters related to the same issue i.e. failure to maintain environmental norms for handling and disposing of legacy municipal solid waste dump sites to the prejudice of environment and public health and also adjoining forest areas.
The dump site in question is the Bandhwari landfill site at Gurugram where about 33 lacs of Metric tonnes of solid waste is dumped for years.
The Tribunal was hearing a matter stating that a Waste Management project has been developed and a contract was assigned to a Chinese company– Eco-green Energy Private Limited in the year 2017.
However, the steps taken are inadequate, the waste is being burnt causing huge air pollution which has the potential to affect not only the inhabitants but also the Asola Bhati Wildlife Sanctuary having 193 species of birds, a large number of medicinal plants and more than 80 species of butterflies, black buck, Golder Jackal, and leopards. The State is under the obligation to protect eco-sensitive zone by controlling the adverse impact of violation of the environmental norms, said the Green Court.
Tribunal while passing the direction on Friday (September 23) also said, having regard to the emergency situation, the State authorities may exercise their jurisdiction to use the nearest available land as per the law applicable for a temporary period on payment of user charges. If any plant is required to be established which requires Environment Clearance (EC), such plants will benefit the environment, grant of EC need not be awaited but all the environmental issues may be followed, including with regard to the forest, wildlife and waterbodies.
NGT further said that the Bandhwari site which is already in existence for many years and 10 acres of land which is already been cleared may be utilized for setting up waste processing facilities to handle the waste generation of the local bodies in question. In case of non-suitability of the land, alternative arrangements should be explored.
The Committee will be free to coordinate with statutory regulators for a levy of compensation from those who have contributed to the pollution, following due process of law. The Committee expected to achieve meaningful progress in the matter within six months with substantial headway within three months, said the NGT order.