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NGT asks WB to deposit Rs 3,500 Cr in biggest ever penalty for lack of steps in Solid Waste Management

By LawStreet News Network      05 September, 2022 04:16 PM      0 Comments
NGT asks WB to deposit Rs 3,500 Cr in biggest ever penalty for lack of steps in Solid Waste Management

NEW DELHI: In biggest ever penalty, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has asked the West Bengal government to deposit Rs 3,500 crore for failing to take requisite steps in solid and liquid waste generation and treatment.

The green panel headed by its chairman Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel pointed out the state government does not appear to be prioritising setting up of sewage and solid-waste management facilities, despite the state's Budget for 2022-2023 made a provision of Rs 12,818.99 crore on Urban Development and Municipal Affairs.

The NGT's directions came as it was monitoring compliance of Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 and other environmental issues by States and Union Territories.

The bench, also comprising Justice Sudhir Agrawal as judicial members and Prof A Senthil Vel as expert member, said that health issues cannot be deferred to the long future, as it is the constitutional responsibility of the state and the local bodies to provide a pollution-free environment.

The panel found that out of 2,758 million litres per day of sewage generation in urban areas and the treatment capacity of 1505.85 MLD (by setting up 44 STPs), only 1,268 MLD is reported to be treated, leaving a huge gap of 1,490 MLD.

Maintaining that the State cannot avoid its responsibility or delay its discharge on pretext of lack of funds, the NGT said clean environment is a part of the right to life, which is also a basic human right and absolute liability of the state.

“Considering damage to the recipient environment, we hold that apart from ensuring compliance at the earliest, compensation has to be paid by the state for past violations,” it said.

"Final amount of compensation under the two heads (solid and liquid waste) is assessed at Rs 3,500 crore which may be deposited by the State of West Bengal in a separate ring-fenced account within two months," the bench added.

The panel further said if violations continued, liability to pay additional compensation may have to be considered.

The NGT further emphasised that segregation of the solid waste at source and its earliest processing nearest to the point of generation with defined destination is imperative.

“Compliance of environmental norms on the subject of waste management has to be high on priority. Tribunal has come across cases of serious neglect and continuing damage to the environment in absence of inadequate steps for treatment of solid and liquid waste,” it said.

"We are of the view that issues have been identified and monitored by the tribunal for a long time. It is high time that the State realises its duty to law and to citizens and adopts further monitoring at its own level," the bench added.

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