The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has ordered the state of Uttarakhand to pay environmental compensation of Rs 200 crore for the increasing pollution of sewage and solid waste in the state.
NGT imposes fine on Uttarakhand
The court imposed this fine for a difference of 60 MLD in the generation and treatment of wastewater and 252.65 TPD in the disposal of solid waste.
Furthermore, 15.75 lakh metric tons of garbage have accumulated in the state over the years, which has also been taken into account. It is known that this amount of fine will be used exclusively for the management of sewage and solid waste.
The court accepted the request of the Chief Secretary of Uttarakhand that instead of collecting the compensation through the NGT, the administration itself would deposit the compensation amount in a separate account within the limit of one month.
A bench from NGT Chairman Judge A K Goel noted that there was a gap of around 60 million liters per day (MLD) in wastewater generation and treatment, in addition to 252.65 metric tons per day (TPD ) of raw waste and 15.75 lakh metric tons (MT) of legacy waste.
The tribunal, which is also made up of judicial members Judges Sudhir Agarwal and Arun Kumar Tyagi, and expert members A Senthil Vel and Afroz Ahmad, said that according to the polluter pays principle, environmental compensation was estimated at around of 200 crores for the inability of the state to scientifically administer the liquids and solid waste in violation of the mandate of the law.
Instructions on waste and water
The Bench noted that the chief secretary had committed that Rs 200 crore, which was readily available with the state, would be set aside and used exclusively for sewage and solid waste management.
The court accepted the Principal Secretary's sentence that instead of the court imposing compensation, the administration itself would ensure the availability of Rs 200 crore by transferring the amount to a separate account within a month, to be operated as per the instructions of the Principal Secretary.
The general secretary would have to review the progress at least once a month and submit semi-annual reports to the court with verifiable progress in waste management.
Other court instructions included immediate waste remediation at nine legacy waste sites and resolution of issues related to the Wastewater Treatment Plants (STPs). During the proceedings, the court said that many installed STPs were discharging treated sewage into the Ganges River and its tributaries or other streams, and that it was essential to restrict such discharges. If this is not possible, such effluents would have to be treated to the highest level, and bacteria contaminated with faeces should not be discharged. The state pollution control board (PCB) should review this aspect, and the actions taken should be included in the next status report, he said.
Call for Comprehensive Waste Management
NGT is monitoring compliance with the Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016, and other environmental issues by states and union territories.
The fine imposed by NGT is a significant step to ensure that the state government takes the necessary measures to manage solid and liquid waste and prevent further contamination. Effective and efficient use of funds is essential to ensure proper management of wastewater and solid waste.
The court's order that the chief clerk must regularly review progress is a good measure to ensure accountability and transparency.
NGT management highlights the urgent need for comprehensive waste management.
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