NGT Imposes Environmental Compensation of Over Rs 2,000 Crore on Punjab for Failure to Treat Waste

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New Delhi, September 23: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has imposed an environmental compensation of over Rs 2,000 crore on the state of Punjab for failure to ensure proper treatment of solid and liquid wastes causing harm to the environment.

The tribunal said the award of compensation has become necessary under section 15 of the NGT Act to remedy the continuing damage to the environment and to comply with directions of the Supreme Court requiring it to monitor the enforcement of norms for solid and liquid waste management.

Moreover, without fixing quantified liability necessary for restoration, the mere passing of orders has not shown any tangible results in the last eight years (for solid waste management) and five years (for liquid waste management), even after the expiry of statutory/laid down timelines. According to the Tribunal, continuing damage is required to be prevented in the future and past damage is to be restored.

Tribunal Bench headed by Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel in an order passed on September 22, 2022, said, “In total compensation under the head of the failure to scientifically manage solid waste works out to Rs. 180 crores. The total compensation is rounded off at Rs. 2180/- crores. NGT Slaps Rs 120 Crore Fine on Uttar Pradesh Govt for River Pollution, Waste Mismanagement.

Out of the said amount, compensation was already awarded for failure to prevent discharge of untreated sewage and remediate solid waste to Rs. 100 crores may be deducted. The remaining amount of Rs. 2080/- crores may be deposited by the State of Punjab in a separate ring-fenced account within two months”.

It will be open to the State to plan to raise funds from generators/contributors to waste. The restoration measures with respect to sewage management would include: setting up of sewage treatment and utilization systems, upgrading systems/ operations of existing sewage treatment facilities to ensure utilization of their full capacities, ensuring compliance with standards, including those of faecal coliform and setting up of proper faecal sewage and sludge management in rural areas, said the tribunal.

The Tribunal is monitoring the issues of solid as well as liquid waste management as per orders of the Supreme Court order dated 02.09.2014 with regard to solid waste management and order dated 22.02.2017, in relation to liquid waste management.

Other related issues include pollution of 351 river stretches, 124 non-attainment cities in terms of air quality, 100 polluted industrial clusters, illegal sand mining etc. which have also been dealt with earlier but we propose to limit the proceedings in the present matter to two issues of solid waste and sewage management, said the order.

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