The tribunal acknowledged large scale violations by commercial establishments and said no action has been initiated either to deal with the illegal activities or punitive action for prosecution.
The National Green Tribunal has directed the Uttar Pradesh government to review and furnish a report within a month on illegal marriage halls, hospitals, hotels and other commercial establishments in Banda, Mahoba and Chitrakoot districts. Expressing dissatisfaction over steps taken by the state pollution control board on waste management in these districts, a bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel directed the UP chief secretary to prepare a plan within a month for utilising the environment restoration fund with the Central Pollution Control Board’s approval.
“Let the Chief Secretary, UP review the situation and furnish a report in the matter within one month from today by e-mail. A further compliance report may be filed by the UPPCB before the next date by e-mail,” the bench said.
The tribunal acknowledged large scale violations by commercial establishments and said no action has been initiated either to deal with the illegal activities or punitive action for prosecution. It said the report submitted by the Uttar Pradesh Pollution control board (UPPCB) shows that neither the date of show cause notice is mentioned nor the basis of determination of compensation, though it is stated that the units are working without consent.
The NGT said the report does not show that any prosecution has been initiated for the violation of the law and there is no explanation why no action was taken so far. “The sorry state of affairs must be set right and an important regulator meant for protection of environment and public health cannot simply plead such incompetence. A plan be prepared for utilising the environment restoration fund with the approval of CPCB within a month,” the bench said. It said that the expenditure may include hiring of experts and consultants, expanding air and water quality monitoring network, procurement of scientific equipments, undertaking restitution, remediation and specialised studies on contaminated sites so that there is effective oversight for enforcement of law.
Under no circumstances these funds be spent on salaries, logistics etc, the NGT said. During the hearing, member secretary of UPPCB told the NGT that there is shortage of staff and officers available are inadequate. It is stated that a sum of Rs 25 crore is collected under the ‘consent head’ which is spent for salary. Further amount of Rs 14 crore towards environment restoration is available but there is no plan for utilizing the said amount, the NGT said.
“The fact remains that the UPPCB is pleading incapacity to discharge its statutory responsibility even if it may result in lawlessness,” the tribunal said.
The tribunal was hearing a petition filed by UP resident Ashish Kumar Dixit, seeking action against illegal operation of marriage halls, nursing homes, clinics, hospitals, commercial complexes, hotels and other commercial establishments without requisite prior consent from the UPPCB in Banda, Mahoba and Chitrakoot districts.