The year just gone by witnessed frequent judicial interventions to curb environmental pollution which finally forced the authorities to act, and one of the measures takenby them was the novel experiment of odd-even formula, introduced in the Capital from January 1 to restrict the number of cars on roads.
Whether its the pollution of the Ganga and the Yamuna rivers, the illegal construction in eco-sensitive zones, or the deteriorating quality of the air, courts have cracked their whip on the erring entities.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) in a significant and far reaching measure put a brake on the sale of diesel-run vehicles by ordering that no such vehicle would be registered till January 6.
Acting tough on the alarming pollution level in the national capital and its suburbs, the Tribunal directed a complete ban on burning of waste in open including garbage, leaves, plastic, crop and said violators will be fined Rs 5000.
The Delhi government this year faced the wrath of the Tribunal as well as High Court, which, in one of its direction, dubbed the national capital as “gas chamber”, due to its worsened air quality.
The Supreme Court barred registration of new diesel vehicles till March 2016, prompting the Delhi government to launch the odd-even car rationing scheme to reduce the number of cars on thecapital’s roads.
The Green Bench also directed all commercial vehicles entering Delhi to pay environmental compensation charge in addition to the toll tax.
Observing that crop burning was a serious issue which contributed to global warming and environmental pollution, the green panel imposed fines ranging from Rs 2,500 to Rs 15,000 on farmers indulging in burning of agricultural residues and asked the state governments of Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh along with Delhi to act on the issue.
The Green court introduced its plan to clean Ganga from Gomukh (the origin of River Ganga) to downstream Bay of Bengal, imposing a complete ban on plastic and directingthat if any hotel, ashram or dharamshala disposed waste into the river, it will pay an environmental compensation of Rs 5,000 per day.
Taking serious note of the rampant illegal construction activities on the banks on Ganga river, the Green panel directed the Uttarakhand government to create a 200m buffer zone from the highest flood level at the banks from Gomukh to Hardwar.
The NGT also acted tough against rafting and camping activities which had been barred from Kaudilya to Rishikesh on the banks of Ganga till the regulatory regime comes into force but later allowed the adventure sports rafting.
The tanneries situated in Kanpur came under the scanner of NGT that directed authorities to strictly comply with mandatory pollution norms and further warned them of closure.
Cracking its whip on pollution in Yamuna River, the green bench passed a slew of directions including a fine of Rs 5000 on those dumping waste or religious article in the river and directed that every household in the city will have to pay a minimum environment compensation of Rs 100 for generating sewage.
In one of its significant order, the NGT banned the immersion of idols except those made of bio-degradable materials and barred any commercial and construction activity on the flood plains of Yamuna river.
Slamming the Haryana government and National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) over delay in construction of Western and Eastern Peripheral Expressways, it directed the authorities concerned to complete the work in a timely manner in order to divert the traffic from entering the capital.
The Tribunal also slapped a fine on the Akshardham temple management and Delhi Development Authority (DDA) here for carrying out expansion without prior environmental clearance.
The NGT also issued direction to the stoppage of construction activity in certain areas in Noida Extension and Gurgaon by taking note of media reports on air pollution caused by building activities.
Unauthorised harnessing of groundwater for construction purposes also caught the Green tribunal’s attention which has issued notice to builders in Delhi-NCR and imposed hefty fines on five-star hotels, malls and hospitals for not installing proper rainwater harvesting systems in their premises.
Concerned over the worrying pace of melting glaciers, the Green bench ordered a complete ban on commercial activities, including para-gliding and snow scooters, and issued a permit for visitors, to limit the number of vehicle, at 13,050 feet Rohtang Pass. The NGT also ordered an installation of CNG fuel stations in Manali.UNI AP RSA 1144
“Serious action on some of the most important problems of pollution has taken the Indian government against erring entities.
Measures the government should take also in rural areas where there are serious problems of pollution of all kinds, especially in pollution levels in rivers and solid waste.” BVAN