Punjab Govt Ordered by NGT to Pay Rs. 2,180 Cr Environmental Compensation for Improper Waste Management

Tanisha Rana

Published on: September 24, 2022 at 20:46 IST

In relation to the compliance with the Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016, and other environmental issues, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday ordered the State of Punjab to pay ₹2,180 crores as environmental compensation.

There are still gaps in waste management in the State, 48 years after the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act was passed and the statutory deadlines under the Solid Waste Management Rules have passed, according to a bench led by Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, Justice Sudhir Agarwal, and Expert Member Prof. Senthil Vel.

“Are there insurmountable difficulties for State authorities or lack of will and determination? We find it difficult to believe the first. In our view, it is lack of good governance and determination responsible for the situation which needs to be remedied soonest,” the NGT said.

The decision was made in accordance with the Supreme Court’s instructions in the cases of Paryavaran Suraksha vs. Union of India and Almitra H. Patel vs. Union of India, which required the tribunal to oversee the application of solid and liquid waste management regulations.

Realizing that corrective action cannot wait indefinitely, the tribunal stated that a change in strategy was required.

“We have suggested change in approach in realizing that remedial action cannot wait for indefinite period as is being proposed by the Administration. Sources of funding are laid down in the orders of the Hon’ble Supreme Court.”

“Responsibility of the State is to have comprehensive plan to control pollution which is its absolute liability, which is not being understood,” it stated.

It also indicated that it was imperative to prioritise adhering to environmental standards for waste management and that it was past time for the government to take responsibility for additional internal monitoring.

The NGT assessed the State a fine of ₹2,000 crores after determining that the State needed to be held accountable for violations that resulted in the discharge of 1000 MLD of sewage per day.

The fine was set at ₹180 crores for failing to manage solid waste, bringing the total penalties to ₹2,180 crores.

The tribunal ordered the State to deposit  ₹2080 crores in a ring-fenced account to be operated in accordance with the Chief Secretary’s instructions and used for restoration measures since it had already fined the State ₹100 crores for failing to prevent the discharge of untreated sewage and to remediate solid waste.

Punjab is the fifth state to get a fine from the NGT in recent weeks for inappropriate trash management, joining West Bengal, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh.

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