ENVIRO ANNOTATIONS

NGT Constitutes Nine-Member Joint Commitee to Probe Surat Gas Leak Case

CPCB Report indicates presence of 165 ppm Cyanide in the liquid disposed illegally and unscientifically

19th January 2022 sk.mishra.ea@gmail.com

New Delhi: The Principal Bench of National Green Tribunal (NGT) headed by Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, Chairperson undertaken hearing to the matter of Original Application No. 05/2022(WZ), Brackish Water Research Centre versus Gujarat State Pollution Control Board & Ors. The matter was taken in the light of media report published on 7th January 2022 in The Indian Express titled “Gujarat: At least 6 dead, 20 sick after gas leak at industrial area in Surat”.

The Tribunal noted that casualties occurred due to release of toxic gas resulting from illegal discharge of hazardous waste, chemical from a tanker, bearing number GJ 06 ZZ 6221, into natural drain in Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC), Sachin, Gujarat. Testing of samples of the liquid hazardous material drawn from the tanker reveals that it was extremely basic in nature with pH value 14, and a very high Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) of 300,672 ppm. Important to note that neutral pH value is 7. And most importantly, the liquid was containing lethal Cyanide contents up to 165 ppm, besides high concentration of other pollutants such as ammoniacal nitrogen, sulphates and sulphides.

According to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) states that the reaction of illegal discharge of liquid waste (highly basic) through tankers and highly acidic wastewater in upstream of the natural drain of the GIDC has resulted in the release of various toxic gases. The accident may have been caused by abrupt formation of such poisonous gases due to acid base reaction. It's worth mentioning that HCN gas do not cause significant pungent smell and H2S gas is highly pungent in odour. Hence, people inhaling such mixed gases in an industrial area may not be able to alert themselves. Apart from these gases, some short-lived toxic volatile compounds may also have generated due to illegal discharge which may have further escalated the lethal impact.

The NGT Bench also noted that such incidents take place from time to time on account of illegal trade. The Gujarat State Pollution Control Board issued closure notices but revoked the same after few days without taking necessary stringent actions. Vehicles involved in illegal disposal of waste are not confiscated. Similar incidence of illegal discharge resulted in death of two persons due to inhalation of toxic gases on 9th February 2019 in Gujarat was also dealt by the NGT in matter O.A. 362 of 2019. The Green Court also mentioned that O.A. No. 05/2022(WZ) has also been filed on the same issue. In I.A. No. 08/2022 in the said matter, it is stated that Hikal Ltd. is operating a chemical manufacturing unit at Taloja MIDC Raigad, Maharashtra and the said company illegally sold its hazardous waste of sodium hydrosulfide to Sangam Enviro Pvt. Ltd, a Vadodara based company in Gujarat which is neither an authorized user nor authorized Hazardous waste disposal facility.

It was observed by the NGT Principal Bench that the incident is a result of unscientific handling, transportation and disposal of hazardous waste in violation of Hazardous and other Waste (Management and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016; Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules, 1989; Environment Protection Act, 1986; Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974; the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.

Order issued by the NGT cites reference, “As per principle of ‘Absolute Liability’, laid down in M.C Mehta vs. UoI & Ors., (1987) 1 SCC 395, principle of ‘Strict and Absolute Liability’ applies and the generator, transporter and handler of such waste is accountable for the loss of lives, injuries and damage to the environment. The heirs of the deceased and the injured are entitled to compensation”.

After hearing and deliberations, the Green Tribunal has ordered for the constitution of a nine-member Joint Committee having Justice B.C. Patel, Former Chief Justice, Delhi High Court and Former Judge of the Gujarat High Court, who is presently stationed at Ahmedabad as the Chairman. Other members of the Committee shall be a representative of Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change; Representative of CPCB; Secretary, Industries, Gujarat; Gujarat State Pollution Control Board; State Disaster Management Committee; SSP, Surat; Head of the Chemical Engineering Department of the IIT Gandhinagar; and District Magistrate, Surat. CPCB has been directed to be the Nodal Agency will be the CPCB and the Gujarat State Pollution Control Board has been made responsible for coordination and compliance.

The Joint Committee shall ascertain the sequence of events; causes of failure and persons and authorities responsible therefor; extent of damage to life, human and non-human; and environment – including, water, soil, air; steps to be taken for compensation of victims and restitution of the environment, and the cost involved; remedial measures to prevent recurrence; any other incidental or allied issues found relevant, including particularly already acidic effluents flowing in the drain in question. The Committee has to submit report by two months.


Other members in the Principal Bench that conducted hearing on the matter were Justice Sudhir Agarwal, Judicial Member; Justice Brijesh Sethi, Judicial Member; Prof. A. Senthil Vel, Expert Member and Dr. Afroz Ahmad, Expert Member.

Union Minister Bhupender Yadav advises Forest Officers to be the Voice of Voiceless, Act as Trustees of vast Natural Resources of the Country

17th January 2022

New Delhi: Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Bhupender Yadav today said that the Forest Officers as the voice of the voiceless need to work with an approach that is earnestly humane and sensitive to the aspirations and needs of the local community. The Minister was virtually addressing the 64 Indian Forest Service (IFS) Probationer Trainees of the 2020 Batch being trained at Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy, Dehradun.

Addressing the young officers, Yadav said that the country under the current national leadership is aspiring for transformative advancement on all fronts of development while simultaneously dealing with challenges and crisis on different environmental frontiers and their manifestations viz. climate change, land degradation, pollution and biodiversity loss, and hence their role in the present era becomes even more important in taking forward and practicing sustainable development.

Minister of State Ashwini Kumar Choubey also addressed the probationers. He said that there are many areas of interaction with the community residing in forest landscapes and other people, where an empathetic, responsive, facilitation approach has to be mainstay of the conduct and functional discharge of duties and this whole process requires utmost sincerity and citizen centric approach with a humane approach.

Leena Nandan, Secretary, MoEF&CC and C. P Goyal, DG (Forest) and Special Secretary, MoEF&CC extended best wishes and words of wisdom to the Probationers.

Delhi gets its First Electric Bus, to ply on Route E-44

17th January 2022

New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal flagged off the state’s first-ever electric bus from the IP Depot on Monday. On the occasion, Arvind Kejriwal said, “Today the Delhi Government has dedicated the state’s first electric bus to the public. This marks the beginning of a new-era in the transport sector of Delhi. In my understanding, now we’ll see a revolution where as and when older buses are rolled out of service, new electric buses will be onboarded. This is a very important step in combating the problem of pollution. This is a zero emission bus and there’s barely any noise made by it.”

The bus can run for a minimum of one twenty kilometres in one charge. It can get charged by 60 to 90 minutes on a fast charger. The first electric bus of Delhi to ply on Route No. E-44.

Delhi Chief Minister said that all DTC depots are being made electric charging friendly. He also said that by April 2022, 300 electric buses to run on different roads in Delhi. The total fleet of 300 buses will run from Mundela Kalan (100 buses), Rajghat (50) and Rohini Sector 37 (150 buses). Delhi Government plans to increase electric bus numbers to 2,000 in the coming years.

Indian State of Forest Report 2021 Released

14th January 2021

Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Bhupender Yadav, on Thursday released the ‘India State of Forest Report 2021’ prepared by the Forest Survey of India (FSI), which has been mandated to assess the forest and tree resources of the country.

The Minister expressed happiness over the fact that the present assessment reveals that 17 states/UT’s have above 33% of the geographical area under forest cover and stated that the focus of the government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not just to conserve the forests quantitatively but to enrich it qualitatively.

Among the major findings, the report states that total forest and tree cover of the country is 80.9 million hectare which is 24.62% of the geographical area of the country. As compared to the assessment of 2019, there is an increase of 2,261 sq km in the total forest and tree cover of the country. Out of this, the increase in the forest cover has been observed as 1,540 sq km and that in tree cover is 721 sq km.

Increase in forest cover has been observed in open forest followed by very dense forest. Top three states showing increase in forest cover are Andhra Pradesh (647 sq km) followed by Telangana (632 sq km) and Odisha (537 sq km).


Delhi Government Environment Minister Gopal Rai has stated that the tree cover has increased by 18 sq km. He added that Green cover of Delhi has increased from 21.88% to 23.06% of its geographical area in the last 2 years.

Vedanta’s Goa Expansion Project gets nod from Dr. C N Pandey led EAC Industry 1 Sector

Vardan EnviroNet warned for submission of incorrect, inconsistent data

S. K. Mishra

sk.mishra.ea@gmail.com

New Delhi: The Minutes of 50th meeting of the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) for Industry-1 Sector projects was approved on 6th January 2022. The EAC re-constituted by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) Chaired by Dr. C N Pandey met on 29th December 2021. Sundar Ramanathan is Member Secretary of the EAC.

The EAC gave its nod to the expansion proposal of Vedanta Limited (Formerly Sesa Goa Ltd.) for its industry located at villages Amona and Navelim, in North Goa District of Goa. With this the company can upgrade Blast Furnaces to enhance production capacity. The Expert Committee has laid a specific condition that the project proponent has to abide by all orders and judicial pronouncements, made from time to time in case No. 47 of 2013 in the National Green Tribunal, Case No. 881/2017 in High Court of Goa; Case No. 24/2015 before the District Court, Mapusa.

One of the specific conditions suggested by the EAC is to ensure Particulate Matters emissions from Blast Furnace in Zinc coating area to be 5 mg/Nm3. The project for which Vimta Labs was hired as EIA Consultant is permitted for a maximum 90 days of slag storage area inside the plant and the project has to attain 100% recycle, reuse of solid waste generated in the plant. Factory water requirement shall be met from Mandovi River and Valvonti River. Ground water abstraction is not permitted. It is also stated that the water being used for cooling purposes in Waste Heat Recovery Power Plant is the saline water drawn from Mandovi River (backwater). The blow down of cooling towers shall be discharged back to the saline backwaters as per the approval of the Goa State Pollution Control Board. The project has periodically monitor the riverine water quality and report to authorities concerned.

Returning the proposal of Chhabra Ispat Private Limited seeking Environment Clearance (EC), the EAC observed that Quality of the EIA report prepared by Vardan EnviroNet Consultant is extremely poor and does not address the significant environmental concerns arising out of the proposed expansion project.

Deliberating another project of Anjaney Ferro Alloys Ltd. seeking amendment in EC, the EAC observed that EIA Consulatnt Vardan EnviroNet has reduced the Particulate Matters emission, power consumption water consumption on pro rata basis, which is incorrect. Further, the Committee warned the EIA consultant for submission of incorrect and inconsistent data. Notable that in the 49th meeting also, the EAC sought explanation from Vardan EnviroNet for suppression of information pertaining to the operation of violating units at the time of grant of Terms of Reference.

After deliberations on the proposal of Jindal Steel & Power Limited, the Expert Committee recommended for the amendment in the EC Dated 22nd February 2007 and its subsequent amendments for excluding the facilities 5 MTPA pellet plant and 3.1 MTPA hot rolling mill and also modifying the specific as well as general conditions. All the other terms and conditions remains unchanged. It was also recommended for the part transfer of facilities 5 MTPA pellet plant and 3.1 MTPA hot rolling mill in the name of the Jindal Steel Odisha Limited by issuing a part transfer EC letter along with prescription of specific as well as general conditions.

NGT Eastern Zone Underlines Money-Laundering Act and environmental regulations

New Delhi: Giving its Hearing to No. Original Application 58/2021/EZ, the Eastern Zone Bench of National Green Tribunal (NGT) has deliberated on various aspects including the Money-Laundering Act, 2002 and environmental regulations.

Ankur Sharma, a resident of Howrah, filed the application stating that large scale pollution is being caused in an around the Howrah Wholesale Fish Market. He also alleged that huge quantities of refuse in the form of rotten fish, fish scales thermocol/polystyrene etc. are dumped on public thoroughfares by various shops, stalls located in the Howrah Improvement Trust (HIT) Fish Market, commonly known as Howrah Wholesale Fish Market. The complainant complained that the dumping of such refuse is causing air, water and land pollution. He also sought installation of Air Quality Monitoring Station, Organic Waste Composters, Noise Monitoring Station, Sewage Treatment Plant by the shop owners, or who are the polluters.

The NGT Eastern Zone Bench comprising of two members, Justice B. Amit Sthalekar, Judicial Member and Saibal Dasgupta, Expert Member, after considering reports, affidavits and counter affidavits, found that Environmental Pollution in the area of the Howrah Wholesale Fish Market has not been addressed by the Howrah Municipal Corporation, they would render themselves liable for appropriate action under the Prevention of Money-Laundering Act, 2002.

However, Bench directed, Howrah Municipal Corporation to ensure compliance of the recommendations and remarks contained in the Inspection Report within a period of two months and file a Compliance Report by 15th March 2022.

The inspection committee constituted of a Senior Scientist from the Kolkata Regional Office of Central Pollution Control Board; (ii) a Senior Scientist from the West Bengal Pollution Control Board; (iii) District Magistrate, Howrah; and (iv) a Senior Officer from the Howrah Municipal Corporation.

In addition to the recommendations made by the Inspection Committee, the NGT Bench also directed the Howrah Municipal Corporation, Howrah Improvement Trust (HIT) and Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA) to consider the installation of Air Quality Monitoring Station and Noise Monitoring Station, besides keeping the entire area clean and dry particularly the drain pits to be kept free from any solid/plastic waste to enable free flow of waste water.

Bhushan Power & Steel attains 99% Ash Utilization, OSPCB reports to NGT

Lead content in groundwater exceeding prescribed standards may be due to geogenic factor. Reason for Total Iron and Managanese in groundwater samples to a level beyond specified limits is yet to be found.

sk.mishra.ea@gmail.com

New Delhi: A grievance was filed before the Kolkata Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) against violation of environmental norms by Bhushan Power and Steel Limited, operating in Sambalpur District of Odisha. The complainant alleged that Bhushan Power and Steel illegally depositing coal ash near the agricultural land, which is the only means of income of the villagers. Bhagwan Padhan, in his Original Application No. 65/2020/EZ also complained that the company was running without developing mandatory green belt around the plant site. The pollution caused by the company was also hampering the nearby forest, natural water resource and agricultural land, barely at distance of 300 to 400 meters. The coal ash is deposited upto a height 40 to 45 feet beyond the prescribed limit and the said site is unattended by the company. The environment in the area always remains in cloud of black dust. The productivity of the agricultural land has been affected due to constant deposit of coal ash dust over the land surface. Read more