The National Green Tribunal (NGT), dated 17th November 2020, directed a joint committee of the central and state pollution control boards to be constituted to look into the grievances and take the necessary action. The petition was filed after a massive fire broke out at the said point on November 1, wherein it had been alleged that locals had vandalized the facility and indulged in arson.
On 10th November 2020, the application was filed by Ambegaon residents Dhananjay Khokate and Jaysing Jadhav before the NGT. Parties to it include the Union of India, State of Maharashtra, Chairman of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) authority, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) & PMC. The application stated that the city is at a stake with repeated incidents of fire at the garbage plants. The application further stated that PMC has been towards the waste processing facility where the fire broke out recently. PMC illegally started the waste processing plant in February 2020, by cutting down numerous trees. Also, the plant was functioning without obtaining the certificate. Finally, after the fire broke out, the entire area was covered with smoke and about 5000 people were affected and had difficulty breathing.
Arguments Before the Court
The applicant argued before the Bench that the plant is in blatant violation of environmental norms and all the plants and trees in and around the city of Pune need to be inspected for compliance strictly by the committee.
Further, the applicants argued that defaulters who are making the city a dumping ground should be punished in accordance with the law.
The applicants also stated to stop and cancel the project by imposing environmental compensations on the operator and contractor.
The plant, run by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), was in the news on November 1st, 2020, when a fire broke out, extensively damaging costly machinery installed in the recent past.
The garbage plant has been set up at a cost of Rs. 4 crores and became functional a few months ago. However, it is facing stiff opposition from the local residents who have mainly raised health concerns. They have also drawn support from local representatives.
Court’s Observation & Decision
After hearing the contentions of the applicants, the Principal Bench, headed by Justice AK Goel, comprising of members Sheo Kumar Singh, Nagin Nanda decided to opt for setting a joint panel. The Bench directed the constitution of Joint committee of CPCB, MPCB, and collector of Pune. The state PCB will be the nodal agency for compliance and coordination. The Tribunal told this expert panel to submit the action report before 23rd March 2021.
The Bench further directed the applicants to forward a set of papers relating to the matter to the CPCB, MPCB, and the district collector.
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