NGT slaps a fine of Rs 100 crore on TN government for failing to restore Chennai's waterways
Taking note of the consistent failure of the state in restoring the Chennai waterways—Adyar, Cooum and Buckingham Canal—the National Green Tribunal has slapped a fine of Rs 100 crore on the Tamil Nadu government. The tribunal has also accused the state government of complacency and colluding with the polluters. Also, to assess the causes and damage to the environment, the NGT has directed setting up of a joint committee comprising representatives of the CPCB, Indian Institute of Sciences, Madras School of Economics, NEERI and the State Pollution Control Board. Further, the state government has been ordered to furnish performance guarantee to the CPCB within one month to complete the restoration work within the specified timelines.
Vedanta's Sterlite plant in Tamil Nadu to remain shut: SC
The Supreme Court has set aside the National Green Tribunal's order to reopen the Sterlite copper plant at Thoothukudi. The SC decision has come as a major relief to the Tamil Nadu government and protesters. In December, the NGT allowed consent renewal for the plant that was permanently shut down by the state government for causing irreversible damage to the area's groundwater. As per the latest decision of the Supreme Court, the tribunal did not have the jurisdiction to have entertained Vedanta’s plea against the plant’s shutdown. Moreover, the NGT also failed to consider the entire gamut of data, documents and evidence placed to show plant causing environmental pollution.
Telangana notifies state wetland authority
The Telangana government has constituted the State Wetland Authority which was due since the Centre notified the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules in September 2017. The Authority would be chaired by the minister in charge of the environment department and will have 16 officials as its ex-officio members from the environment, forest, urban and rural development, water resources, fisheries, irrigation, among other departments. The state has also formed the Telangana Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) for the management of the State CAMPA Fund and its utilisation for the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act, 2016.
Parliamentary panel raises serious concerns on the Draft National Forest Policy
Taking note of its bent towards commercialisation of forest and industry interests, the Parliamentary panel has raised serious concerns on the Draft National Forest Policy which will supersede the National Forest Policy, 1988. The panel has criticised the environment ministry for not holding consultations with the Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) while drafting the policy. Moreover, while ignoring the role of tribals in forest conservation, the draft emphasises on commercialisation of forests through the public-private partnership model. The panel has recommended a discussion with MOTA along with state and local governments, NGOs and civil society groups before notifying final policy document.
Punjab government releases blueprint to clean the Sutlej
The Punjab government has come up with the Clean River Sutlej 2019 plan for the cleanup of the river over the next two years. The state government has come up with the action plan more than two months after the National Green Tribunal slapped a fine of Rs 50 crore on the government over the Sutlej river pollution. As part of the plan, the government has identified 42 places, which includes 30 major towns, for the installation of Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs). The plan also proposes to upgrade the Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CEPTs) at Ludhiana and Jalandhar for tackling the industrial untreated waste that gets discharged directly into the river.
This is a roundup of important policy matters from February 13 -18, 2019. Also, read news this week.