Uttarakhand Environmental Law Reporter – May 2019 (Vol I, Issue 1)
Uttarakhand was directed by the Supreme court to set the criteria to determine what constitutes “deemed forest” for the purpose of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980. The state had sent the standard previously in 2014 but the Supreme Court was informed that “nothing concrete” has been sent to the MoEF. Under the Forest Conservation Act, “deemed forests” mandate that the permission of the MoEF would be needed to carry out any non-forest activity in the area.
The NGT on May 16, 2019 directed Uttarakhand to provide a performance assurance of Rs 10 lakh to the CPCB to safeguard timely compliance of its instructions on the issue of unscientific disposal of municipal solid waste at Almora.
The Tribunal through its order dated 12.09.2018 had directed that waste processing and treatment facility must begin before 15.12.2018 which will be the under the charge of the Additional Chief Secretary, Urban Development, state of Uttarakhand. A direction was also issued to the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC) to take steps to implement Extended Producer’s Responsibility (EPR) in accordance with Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016. A report filed by the State of Uttarakhand specifies some of the steps taken but the issue of DPR is said to be still pending. In view of the failure of Uttarakhand to ensure compliance of specific direction of the Tribunal, further time is granted subject to furnishing of Performance Guarantee Rs. 10 lacs to the CPCB and if the order is not complied with within extended time, the amount will be spent by CPCB for the restoration of the environment. The Chief Secretary of Uttarakhand has been directed to monitor the situation and MoEF&CC has been asked to file an explanation as to why the order has not been complied with.
The initial application alleged that illegal construction is taking place in the prohibited river bed/flood plain of the river Ganga at District Pauri, Uttarakhand.
Reports submitted by the District Magistrate, Pauri and the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) sanctions the allegation of illegal construction and illegal mining and a fine of Rs.3,34,500/- was imposed. But SPCB conditions that compensation determined is only on the basis of royalty and does not take into account components like the cost of restoration, cost of services forgone forever, cost of the mined material and on that basis, fresh assessment is to be made and action taken report furnished. The NGT directs for a further report to be filed on the matter within two months.
(Source: Indian Express)
The National Green Tribunal has ordered environment audit of the work undertaken by state-run NHIDCL alongside Bhagirathi River in Uttarakhand in a plea filed by environment activist Gaurav Jain who had alleged that NHIDCL was dumping muck into Bhagirathi River during the construction of the road in a reckless manner. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) may harmonize the cost of the audit will be borne by the NHDCL, the tribunal said.
On May 28, 2019, The National Green Tribunal (NGT) acknowledged that a comprehensive action plan for forest fires has been enacted in the name of National Action Plan on Forest Fire (NAPFF) whose implementation needs a strong institutional mechanism in view of an increase in the incidents.
The mechanism will comprise representatives from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Wildlife Institute of India (Dehradun), NDMA, Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (Dehradun), Forest Survey of India and the National Remote Sensing Centre (Hyderabad) representing the Central Government on the one hand and the principal chief conservator of forests of all states/UTs on the other.
A central monitoring committee shall meet once in three months to address all the issues taking place out of forest fires, as well as the effective implementation of the NAPFF. Additionally, a national level database will be recorded under NAPFF for burnt area assessment, which should have standardized protocols and measures to enable reporting of the area affected and losses because of the forest fire.
Pilgrims going to Badrinath are facing burning garbage heaps in open ground en route to Badrinath, most significantly at Karnaprayag where dark smoke contaminating the air welcomes the pilgrims. This not only causes air pollution but also causes water pollution as it pollutes Alaknanda River, mainstream to river Ganga. This open dumping is witnessed despite the fine of 25000 on people who set garbage on fire imposed by NGT. This pollution not only causing distress to pilgrims but severally dented the pristine natural environment of Himalayas too.
(About the authors: Shubhra serves as a Digital Editor and Neilam is a Legal Analyst at Gati Foundation, a Dehradun based environmental action and advocacy group)