The National Green Tribunal(NGT) on October 16, 2018, imposed a fine of Rs. 50 crore on the Delhi government for its “failure” to take action against steel pickling units in residential areas as they fall under the prohibited list of industrial activity.
A Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, imposing the heavy fine has rapped the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government for not closing the industrial units despite its specific directions.
The Bench said that discharge of untreated effluent directly or indirectly in the river has caused serious damage to the environment and the Polluter Pays Principle needs to be invoked to compensate the damage caused.
“We impose a cost of Rs. 50 crore on the Delhi government for its inaction and failure resulting in creating lawlessness and also damaging the environment and the public health. It will be open to the Delhi government to recover the said amount from the erring industries and/or from the erring officers…The amount must be deposited with the Central Pollution Control Board within one month from today,” the Bench said.
Further, the Bench directed the APP government to shut these units and told the Delhi Chief Secretary to constitute a three-member team to identify persons responsible who may be liable to be prosecuted and punished for violation of law and sought a report within four months.
“Needless to say, permitting polluting industries in violation of law cannot be tolerated and has to be strongly dealt with. We have noticed repeated failure of the Delhi government in handling environment issues and continuing violation of orders of this tribunal,” the Bench observed.
The metal used in pickling industries produce corrosive wastes and effluent discharge, which are harmful for human health and aquatic life. Moreover, the dangerous corrosive chemicals have the ability to cause grave skin injuries and breathing difficulties.