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HindustanTimes Thu,18 Dec 2014

Watchdog errs, 450 pollution cases may fail

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, October 15, 2013
First Published: 00:10 IST(15/10/2013) | Last Updated: 00:13 IST(15/10/2013)

All 450 violators of pollution norms in the Capital may go scot-free because of an oversight by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), the city’s pollution watchdog.

Cases of air, water or noise pollution in the Capital can only be filed by the chairman or the member-secretary of the committee but the DPPCC allowed its environmental engineers to report the violators.

Recently the Tis Hazari district court quashed a case filed by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee against a watch company for handing plastic bags to customers, saying “the complaint was not filed by a competent person”.

The ruling can have a bearing on almost 450 cases that are pending with the court specially set up to hear cases filed by the city’s pollution watchdog.

Some 500 cases — use of plastic carry bags, release of untreated sewage, violation of emission norms, drawing ground water illegally to name a few — are pending against industrial units, hotels, restaurants, hospitals, malls and waste and power plants. Of these, only 42 have been filed by either the chairman or the member-secretary.

To arrest the “anarchy which is likely to set in”, DPCC chairman Sanjiv Kumar has requested the Centre to “immediately delegate the power (to file cases) to environmental engineers”. These engineers are the ones who visit sit es and carry out inspections. The DPCC also plans to challenge the order in the high court.

Saying the order will have an adverse bearing on all pending cases, Kumar, in a letter to the union ministry of environment and forests, said the court was reportedly considering throwing out the filed complaints and was also not accepting new ones.

All states have given the engineers the power to file complaints but not the union territories, including Delhi.

The letter, accessed by HT, says restricting the power to file cases to two officers was a severe constraint that could be abused by violators.

Moreover, the DPCC will need all possible hands once the plastic-bag ban kicks in. The enforcement is on hold because the matter is pending in court.


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