Nature's Narrative Vol. 5(1)
Indian Environmental Law Update
NGT held that plastic pens are covered under plastic waste management rules
Recently, the NGT held that plastic pens are covered under plastic waste management rules and directed the Environment Ministry to finalise the Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR) regime for management of waste. This was decided by a bench consisted of NGT chairman Justice A.K. Goel who also asked the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to coordinate with the State Pollution Control Boards and State Level Monitoring Committees on EPR. The bench further said, “Though the word ‘pen’ is not particularly mentioned under the rules but it is covered under the definition of plastic under Rule-3 (o) of the plastic waste management rule, 2016. Thus, pen is also covered by the statutory framework.” The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by Avani Mishra against unchecked use of plastic pen having adverse impact on the environment. The plea alleged that the EPR liability is not being duly enforced, and suggested for a buy back policy.
The applicant submitted that around 27 lakhs pens are produced per day and it is it possible for the local bodies to collect and treat the waste as contemplated under the rules. And as the refills costs high, it encourages people to purchase fresh pens. The CPCB earlier told the Tribunal that the items covered under EPR in PWM Rules, 2018 are multi-layered plastics pouches and packets, thus items such as pens and other plastic products have not been covered under extended producers liability.
Kochi Corporation to face charges for unauthorised or improper management of solid waste at Brahmapuram
The Kochi Corporation will face prosecution proceedings for the violation of water, air and Environmental Protection Acts for unauthorised or improper management of solid waste at Brahmapuram. The principal bench of the NGT had recommended prosecution and environment compensation for the civic body’s failure to comply with the norms. Even though the State Pollution Control Board has fixed the environment compensation, the prosecution proceedings have not yet started despite clear directives from the tribunal. A senior officer from the head office said that the notice under Section 15 of the Environment Protection Act, 1986 will be issued to the secretary of the civic body only after collecting evidences showing violation of the various acts.
The assessment of the quantity of old waste at the site had to be ascertained before issuing the notice. The officials who are responsible would face legal action under the relevant sections of water prevention and control of pollution Act, 1974 and Air Prevention and Control of Pollution Act, 198. The violations would be punishable with imprisonment up to one year and six months in the first instance and it may extent up to six years with fine as per relevant sections of the water Act.
Apex Court sought for NGT report for Yamuna water quality
Recently, the Apex Court sought for a report from National Green Tribunal- appointed river Yamuna monitoring committee led by former Delhi Chief Secretary Shailaja Chandra about its recommendations to improve the quality of water and the extent to which the states have implemented their suggestions. A bench led by CJI Bobde accepted the submission by senior advocate and amicus curiae Meenakshi Arora that the Committee, which also comprises former NGT expert members B.S. Sajwan, should be roped in for the benefit of its experience and work on the river. “The committee is overseeing the programme on the Yamuna. It will help us know about the status of sewage treatment plants etc. A detailed status of sewage treatment plants etc.
On January 13, the Supreme Court had taken suo motu cognizance of the contamination of rivers by sewage effluents through lapses committed by municipalities, saying “open surface water resources including rivers are the lifeline of human civilization.” The Chief Justice further added that deterioration of quality of fresh water has a direct correlation with the quality of public health. The right to clean environment, and further ,a pollution free water has been protected under the broad rubric of the right to life.” Therefore the court had decided to start its suo motu exercise in the Yamuna River case.
Indian Disaster Update
La Nina affects India in 2020
As India recorded above average rainfall, La Nina affected 2020 as India recorded above normal rains, harsher winters and decreased heatwaves-The conditions of La Nina played a significant role in having a good monsoon and extreme cold conditions in parts of northern India. There were also five cyclones in the seas along the eastern and western coasts throughout the year. According to an IMD report, four out of the five were extreme cyclone storms or beyond. If you regard the large-scale variable for the frequency of cold wave conditions, the El Nino and La Nina conditions play a dominant role. Both variables La Nina and El Nino are also believed to have an effect on the Indian monsoon. For example, an above-normal monsoon with nine percent excess rainfall was observed in 2020. 2020's December winter had extended spells of cold waves.
Ammonia Gas Leak at IFFCO Plant, UP
An ammonia gas leak took place on 22nd December at U.P. in around 10.30 PM which led to loss of lives and injury to many people. When the case was reported to NGT, it constituted a five members expert committee and also directed it to prepare and submit a report on the gas leak incident at IFFCO plant in Phulpur. This matter was taken up by NGT chairperson Justice A.K. Goel and Justice S.K. Singh along with the formed committee comprising representatives of the Ministry of Environment and forests, Central pollution Control Board(CPCB), UPPCB, IIT Kanpur and District Magistrate of Prayagraj.
An interim compensation of Rs. 2.5 lakhs was directed by the Tribunal to be paid to the victims. A report on the causes of gas leak, extent of damage, steps taken for compensation to victims and restitution of damaged property and environment was asked to be submitted by the committee. The District Magistrate of Prayagraj would make all the support for the proper functioning of the committee. Further, taking the reference from a Hindi newspaper the NGT noticed that two officers of IFFCO have lost their lives and 16 employees suffered from injury due to ammonia gas leaks. Also technical investigation was to be taken up along with that the Chief Minister of UP also lent his support by announcing financial help of Rs 4 Lakhs to each family whose family members have died in the incident.