NGT imposes fine of Rs10 crore on Faridabad Builder for environmental Pollution
The National Green Tribunal’s bench of ChairpersonAdarsh Kumar Goel , Judicial Member S.P. Wangdi, Judicial member K. Ramakrishnan , Expert member Nagin Nanda and Expert member Saibal Dasgupta has in the matter of Mukund Dhote Versus Union of India &Ors imposed an interim compensation of Rs 10 crore on a Faridabad builder for violating environmental norms and causing pollution. It was held that, “Pollution cannot be allowed to be profitable activity. The environment is priceless. Intentional violations have to be visited with more stringent damages than accidental or unintended.”
The Tribunal has directed the State of Haryana and the State PCB to take further remedial action by way of appropriate coercive measures including black listing of the project proponent from undertaking such projects in future till environmental norms are fully carried out, sealing and taking possession of public utility spaces in the project, sealing and taking over of vacant flats if any, requiring compliance of other remedial steps.
A representative of Town and Country Planning, Haryana may also be associated. Revised compensation may be assessed and recovered on the pattern of earlier orders of this Tribunal noted above by a joint Committee MoEF&CC, CPCB and State PCB.
It has determined interim compensation of Rs. 10 Crores on the basis of size of the project, financial capacity of the project proponent and magnitude of the violations. The Tribunal relied on the Judgment of the Supreme Court in the matter of Goel Ganga Developers Pvt. Ltd. v. Union of India and Ors. wherein 5% of the total cost of the Project was levied as compensation payable for violating the conditions of the Environment Clearance.
Joint Inspection report
A joint report was sought from the MoEF&CC and State PCB with reference to the allegation that housing project ‘Vesta Heights’, Village Baselwa, Sector-86, Faridabad, Haryana operated by respondent no-5 was in violation of conditions of Environmental Clearance and the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.
The joint inspection report dated 01.07.2019 was filed with the status of compliance of conditions ofEnvironmental Clearance (EC). It mentions the violations of EC conditions including non-installation of STPs in terms of EC condition, there being no water meters flow measurementdevice, absence of medical facilities at the project site, not providing noise monitoring data, not providing details of thegreen belt, non-construction of basement for parking and failure to obtain a Consent from the Central Ground Water Board for the extraction of ground water.
Disregard for Environmental norms
The report shows serious and consistent defaults in compliance of EC conditions and complete disregard for environmental norms.
- As against requirement of two STPs, only one has been installed, creating environmental hazard. Water discharged from the STP is not as per norms.
- Treated water was to be used for flushing and unused water was to be sent to the public sewer. This is not being done.
- Ground water is being illegally extracted.
- There is no provision of segregation of solid waste. Parking and green belt have not been provided and solid waste is not being properly handled.
- Noise level monitoring data is not being maintained. STP waste water is being discharged into unknown land. Water harvesting pits are not clean.
- Consent to Operate has not been renewed, apart from other defaults as noted in the above report. Action taken by the State PCB is not adequate.
Polluter Pays Applied in the matter
In Vellore Citizens Welfare Forum vs. Union of India (UOI) and Ors, the Hon’ble Supreme Court interpreted "Polluter Pays" principle by stating that the absolute liability for harm to the environment extends not only to compensate the victims of pollution but also the cost of restoring the environmental degradation. Remediation of the damaged environment is part of the process of "Sustainable Development" and as such polluter is liable to pay the cost to the individual sufferers as well as the cost of reversing the damaged ecology. The Precautionary Principle and the Polluter Pays Principle have been accepted as part of the law of the land. Measure of compensation must be correlated to the magnitude and capacity of the enterprise because such compensation must have a deterrent effect.
The matter is again listed for consideration on 02-03-2020.