NGT Pulls up PMC, Asks to Shift Waste Processing Plant at Baner

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Excerpt

The National Green Tribunal (NGT), Principal Bench, dated 27th October 2020, directed Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) to close the plant and shift it to another site within four months and use the present site for the designated purpose of developing a bio-diversity park. The Bench pulled up the PMC for setting up a waste processing plant in Baner.

Brief Facts

The Appellant, Sus Road Baner Vikas Manch, filed an application seeking to restrain Noble Exchange Environment Solution, Pune LLP (NEXS) from operating a garbage processing plant at the site which was located at a hillock that was allotted by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) on the ground of violation of environmental norms. It was submitted that the land was reserved for bio-diversity park in the Development Plan which has been subsequently changed. The trucks loaded with garbage were transported without safeguards. Also, Environmental Clearance (EC) was granted on 1st February 2016, by SEIAA without following the due procedure.

Arguments 

The Appellant contended that:

“There is a violation of Rule 20 of the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 (SWM Rules, 2016) which provides that location of such plant on a hill area is to be avoided unless no other land is available in which case suitable safeguards mentioned therein are to be followed.”

The Respondents, The PMC as well as MPCB submitted that the application was barred by the limitation and that no consent to operate was required. The MPCB granted authorization for the plant which is valid till 2021, but the plant does not possess consent to operate.

Analysis

On 5th September 2019, the Tribunal constituted an Expert Committee comprising CPCB and MPCB to inspect the plant and the area and verify the factual aspects. Accordingly, the joint Committee filed its report dated 10th October 2019 to the effect that the plant has been set up under a Concession Agreement dated 30th March 2015, between the PMC and NEXS for segregation and crushing facility.

Court’s Observation

After hearing the contentions from both sides, the Bench found the application has to be allowed for enforcement of environmental norms.

The Bench observed that consent to establish was required under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.

The Bench also noted that the location of the plant at hillock and in the vicinity of habitation was not desirable and was at the cost of the right of the inhabitants to a pollution-free environment. It was also in violation of Rule 20 of the SWM Rules, 2016.

The Bench also explained that the plant was in violation of the right to clean the environment of the inhabitants and was against statutory norms. The Bench stated that: 

“According to CPCB guidelines, a waste processing plant can’t be set up within 500 meters of an “inhabitation”, but there are 15 apartments and a few housing societies located within a distance of 200 meters from the Baner plant.“

Court’s Decision

While hearing a Petition on the matter, a Bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and S K Singh, and expert members S S Garbyal and Nagin Nanda, the Bnch constituted a joint committee comprising officials from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), District Collectorate and the PMC to monitor the further course of action for implementation of the Order.

Lastly, The Bench directed PMC to close the plant and shift it to another site within four months and use the present site for the designated purpose of developing a bio-diversity park. The Bench pulled up the PMC for setting up a waste processing plant in Baner.

Click here to view the Judgement.


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