NGT slams UPPCB for not taking action petha industries causing pollution


PTI, Aug 7, 2021, 2:31 PM IST

New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has slammed the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Board for not taking action against pollution caused by petha industries in Kanpur, and directed its chairman to review the functioning of the board.

The green panel said the state pollution control board filed a report after a year and nine months of its order to the effect that nine factories inspected were found closed and order of closure was passed against some of said factories.

“We find it surprising that the inspection team comprised very junior officers and the report filed is highly unsatisfactory. There is no explanation why action was initiated more than one year after the order of this tribunal,” a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice A K Goel said.

The tribunal said nothing is mentioned about action against illegal ground water extraction and management of solid and liquid waste.

Though it is mentioned that the water was being used for domestic as well as industrial purposes, it is not clear as to whether requisite permissions particularly for industrial purposes were granted and if not, what remedial action was taken for the violation, it said.

“It is mentioned that coal was being used as a fuel for the bhatties (type of a furnace) but whether any safeguards against air pollution and requisite consents under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 were taken is not mentioned, the tribunal noted.

Perusing the report, the NGT noted that in some of the factories, in absence of chimneys, air pollution was being caused which was adversely affecting the environment and public health.

In spite of such damage to the environment and public health, no compensation has been assessed and recovered nor any prosecution initiated as required under the law, the tribunal said.

The NGT said such inaction is a failure of statutory obligation of the state PCB.

“In absence of any other explanation, inference of collusion of the concerned officers of the state PCBs is not ruled out. It is surprising that though the report was sought by the tribunal from the state PCB, the report has been filed by a regional office, without the state PCB getting involved into the picture at all,” the bench said.

The green panel said it would have been desirable that even if the report was prepared by the lower officers, the same should have been filed through the member secretary of the state PCB, after application of mind at the level of the state PCB.

“The tribunal had given two months” time for giving of report but the action itself was initiated after more than one year. The report speaks volumes about inefficient working of the state PCB. For such failures, the officers concerned are required to be made accountable, the bench said.

It directed the chairman and member secretary of the state PCB to review the working of the board in the light of above observations, and take appropriate remedial action, including action against erring officers concerned as well as for enforcement of law for the violations of environmental norms, in the form of assessing and recovering compensation, initiating prosecution as well as disciplinary action.

Further, the remedial action plan needs to ensure that petha-making units are duly consented with conditions for water being sourced legitimately and scientific solid and liquid waste disposal, it said, adding that the exercise may be completed within three months.

The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by Sushil Kumar Avasthi, alleging illegal extraction of ground water by the petha factories in Kanpur”s residential areas, adversely affecting the environment.

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