The NGT cracked down upon industrial units that pollute and stressed the importance of cleaning the Ganga & the Yamuna.
In the wake of COVID-19 and courts moving to virtual mode, the NGT continued to hear cases via video conferencing. It even extended its summer vacation for 2021 due to an exponential increase in coronavirus infections in April and May.
For failing to fulfill their “statutory” obligations, and corporate houses causing damage to the environment and ecology, heavy fines were imposed on public authorities.
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 noted that Ganga cleaning remains a challenge despite the fact that it has been monitored for the last 36 year. Accordingly, it is now time to hold accountable for the timely and proper 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.
The tribunal stated that Yamuna’s water quality is still very poor as pollutants continue to be discharged into the drainage systems.
It railed at the authorities in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and other states for polluting the Yamuna.
The tribunal also took suo-moto cognisance of industrial accidents that caused fatalities or injuries.
Pan-India directions were issued on various issues ensuring the prevention of industrial accidents, putting in place a disaster management plan, assessing the environmental compensation, and formulating a plan for restoration.
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 directed the Kurnool administration to Andhra Pradesh to address the non-compliance with safety norms by industries that deal with hazardous chemicals.
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 in 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 was also aware of the fire incident at Baghjan Oil Well in Assam. OIL stated that Oil India Ltd (OIL), cannot absolve its responsibility and shifts the blame to the contractor. They also created a committee to determine responsibility for the actions of the individuals involved in the incident.
Due to the fact that air pollution is responsible for the deaths of approximately 1.5 million Indians each year, the NGT created an eight-member National Task Force. This task force will monitor the progress of remedial measures to improve air quality.
The NGT stated that RO purifiers are a huge waste of water and should be stopped. It directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests not to delay in issuing a notification banning RO purifiers in areas where total dissolved solids are less than 500 milligrams per Liter.
It also directed CPCB officials to issue directions regarding management of RO rejects (including cartridges)
It also nullified the environmental clearance granted to a highrise luxury project by Godrej Properties Limited, Wonder Projects Development Private Limited in Bengaluru, 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 claiming that poultry farms with less then 25,000 birds are run in an unorganised sector by small farmers is absurd and goes against the precautionary principle.