The National Green Tribunal (NGT), dated 17th November 2020, has directed the Secretary, Urban Development Department to ensure remedial action in two months and file a compliance report on the issue of violation of Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 at Dughneri village of Hamirpur District.
The petition was filed by Rita Sharma and others who stated that due to failure to handle waste, it has burnt, caused air pollution, which has, in turn, resulted in diseases, loss of livestock, and contributed to forest fires and loss of wildlife. There was an increase in the population of monkeys, feral dogs, and scavengers namely crows, vultures, etc. The dumpsite in the hilly terrain was overflowing and contaminated the water body, which was a source of irrigation. The Applicant also produced relevant photographs and letters. The Tribunal, on January 14th, sought a report from the Deputy Commissioner, Hamirpur, Municipal Council, Hamirpur, and Himachal Pradesh State Pollution Control Board.
Arguments Before the Court
The Joint inspection report filed by the State Pollution Board before the Tribunal on November 13th 2020 stated that the Joint Inspection Committee (JIC) had directed the Municipal Council, Hamirpur to join the corners of RCC retaining wall with the hillside to avoid spillage of Solid Waste, to provide proper fencing to avoid entry of stray animals inside the facility, construct storm drain of adequate size to avoid entry of stormwater/rainwater and to ensure that no fire incident/forest fire takes place in the solid waste processing facility. Also, the report said directions were also issued to construct a storm drain.
The Joint Inspection Committee, in this case, referred to the decision in the case of Rita Sharma v. State of HP & Ors.
After hearing the contentions of the Applicants, the Principal Bench, headed by Justice AK Goel, comprising of members Sheo Kumar Singh, Nagin Nanda found that there was a failure to take action on the ground that the local body did not have funds, which could not be a valid ground as a clean environment is a fundamental right for which funds were to be arranged by the authorities by collection from the concerned citizens.
The Bench directed the Urban Development Department, Himachal Pradesh to ensure further remedial action following the law within two months and to file a compliance report until 24th March 2021.
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