Millennium Post

NGT refuses to waive `20 cr fine on Raj govt for inaction

New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal has refused to modify its order slapping a fine of Rs 20 crore on Rajasthan government for not taking proper action to control pollution in the Bandi river by local textile industries.

A bench headed by Justice Raghuvendra S Rathore said that considering the damage caused to the environment due to the industries, environment compensation of Rs 20 crore cannot be considered to be excessive.

"We are of the considered opinion that the applicant is not entitled to any of the reliefs prayed for in the review application for the simple reason that in the order dated January 31 there is no error apparent on the face of the record," the bench said.

The tribunal also refused to extend the time limit till December 2010 for achieving 'Zero Liquid Discharge' and operation of Sewage Treatment Plants to their optimum capacity, terming the plea as pre-mature.

"The concerning industry should first proceed for complying the order passed by the tribunal and thereafter, if the work is not completed within time frame then only they should seek extension, if it is justified," the bench said.

The plea filed by the Rajasthan government has sought review of the January 31 order of the tribunal which slapped a fine of Rs 20 crore on it for not performing its function properly to control pollution in the Bandi river by local textile industries.

The state government has sought direction to waive or reduce the amount and that it should be recovered from the erring industries.

On January 31, the NGT had directed the Rajasthan chief secretary to deposit the money as an interim amount within one month towards environment compensation to the Central Pollution Control Board, which may be recovered from the polluters.

The bench had directed the agriculture secretary and the Rajasthan government to get an assessment done on loss of agriculture to the farmers due to the damage caused to agriculture land by use of contaminated water of the Bandi river as well as to the wells in the nearby area and submit a report within one month, suggesting compensation to the farmers.

The green panel gave its direction while adjudicating a plea by Kisan Paryavaran Sangharsh Samiti, which has alleged that textile units have caused pollution in the Bandi river.

A study of surface and groundwater in Pali, conducted by the Centre for Science and Environment in 2008, had found almost 80 per cent of the sample water unfit for drinking.

The samples showed high alkaline and chemical oxygen demand levels, indicating dangerous levels of organic pollutants. The quantity of total dissolved solids was four times higher than the standard. The case was transferred to the NGT from the Jodhpur High Court in 2012.

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