NGT Bans Polluting Activities in Non-Conforming Areas

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The National Green Tribunal (NGT), Principal Bench, New Delhi, passed an order, on 25th August 2020, regarding the activity of printing press machines and its spare parts which fall under ‘Orange’ category in a non-conforming area. The NGT ordered not to start prohibited activity in non-conforming areas and not to repeat the polluting activity. Furthermore, the NGT ordered to pay 25 per cent of the Rs 20 lakh required to be paid as environmental compensation (EC), as imposed by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC).

Brief Facts of the Case 

According to the impugned order, the appellant was engaged in the activity of printing press machines and its spare parts which falls under ‘Orange’ category in the non-conforming area. The DPCC laid down sum of Rs. 20 Lakhs for Environmental Compensation for every unit operating in ‘Orange’ category in a non-conforming area. According to the appellant, a uniform compensation for every ‘Orange’ category unit operating in the non-conforming area may result in discrimination against smaller units without reference to their contribution to pollution.

Arguments before the Court

The Appellants claimed there should be slabs of compensation depending on the size of the unit, financial capacity or extent of pollution.

Analysis

The NGT order was against the order passed by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) on July 17, imposing an EC of Rs 20 lakh on the basis of the ‘Polluter Pays’ principle.

“The Polluter Pays Principle means that absolute liability of harm to the environment extends not only to compensate the victims of pollution but also to the cost of restoring environmental degradation.”

Court’s Observation

The Court observed and decided that it will be just and fair if the appellant deposits 25% of the amount in the first instance and undertakes not to start prohibited activity in non-conforming areas and not to repeat the polluting activity, the scale of compensation is revisited by a Joint Committee comprising Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the DPCC within three months from today. If no deposit is made and undertaking as above is not filed within one month, no further order will be necessary. If the scale of compensation is revised, the impugned compensation will stand revised accordingly.


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