The NGT cracked down on pollution-causing industrial units and stressed the need to clean up the Ganga and Yamuna.
In the wake of COVID-19 and courts moving to virtual mode, the NGT continued to hear cases through video conferencing. It even extended its summer vacation for 2021 due to an exponential increase in coronavirus infections in April and May.
In the past year, there were also heavy fines and compensations for environment violations on public authorities and corporate houses.
The NGT expressed dissatisfaction at the cleaning of Ganga. They stated that innocent citizens drink the river water out of reverence, but they don’t know the harmful contents. The least the authorities can expect is to notify affected locations.
The tribunal observed that Ganga needs to be cleaned despite monitoring over the past 36 years. It said it was time for accountability for the proper and timely use of funds.
Based on water quality data, 351 polluted river stretches were identified by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). Rejuvenation plans were prepared following the instructions of NGT with the aim of bringing the water quality to a minimum bathing level.
Concerning pollution in Yamuna the tribunal stated that water quality is still extremely poor and pollutants are still being discharged into drains.
It railed against the authorities of Delhi and Uttar Pradesh for releasing polluted water in Yamuna. They were supposed to protect the environment and public health, and not enjoy position and perks.
The tribunal also took suo motu cognisance of cases relating to industrial accidents that resulted in injuries and fatalities.
Pan-India directions have been issued in various areas to ensure prevention of industrial accidents and the establishment of a disaster management plan on-site or off-site, assessment of environmental compensation, and formulation of a restoration plan.
It also imposed Rs 20 crore penalties on four units in Dhampur Sugar Mills Ltd. and Rs 10 million on a pharmaceutical manufacturing business in Uttar Pradesh for violating environmental norms.
The NGT ordered the Kurnool administration of Andhra Pradesh, to implement remedial measures to repair the environmental damage caused by the ammonia gas leakage accident at Nandyal.
It also stated that plastic pens fall under the Plastic Waste Management Rules. The environment ministry was directed to finalize the Extended Producers Responsible regime.
Concerning biomedical waste management, all facilities across the country were directed by the tribunal to obtain authorization from state pollution control board while the CPCB was directed to ensure strict compliance to the Bio Medical Waste Management Rules.
NGT also noticed the fire at Baghjan oil well in Assam. OIL could not deny responsibility, shifting the blame to the contractor. A committee was formed to address the failures of those involved in the incident.
The NGT established an eight-member National Task Force to monitor and improve air quality.
The NGT directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests, while directing them to issue a notice immediately banning RO purifiers with total dissolved solids below 500 milligrams per Liter. This would prevent huge water wastage.
It also directed CPCB to issue directions for management of RO rejects, cartridges, etc.
It also quashed an environmental clearance granted to a high rise luxury project by Godrej Properties Limited in Bengaluru and Wonder Projects Development Private Limited, and directed its immediate demolition.
NGT also examined the impact of poultry farms on pollution. They ruled that a person who runs a farm of more then 5,000 birds cannot be called a small farmer.
The green panel stated that the argument that small farmers run poultry farms with less than 25,000. birds is not supported by environmental law.