Ghaziabad: NGT seeks detailed status report of hotels, malls, eateries operating without norms
The National Green Tribunal has ordered the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board to submit a detailed report on establishments operating without environmental clearance in Ghaziabad district. The tribunal warned that the UPPCB could be liable for environmental compensation and the officers responsible could be prosecuted for abetting pollution. The UPPCB had previously issued show-cause notices to 20 establishments for operating without consent. However, the NGT found the report submitted by the UPPCB to be unsatisfactory.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has issued directions to the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) seeking an additional detailed report on the status of malls, hotels, restaurants, and eateries operating without prescribed environmental norms in Ghaziabad district, officials aware of the matter said.
The NGT’s order came in response to a petition filed by Ghaziabad resident Prasoon Pant, who alleged that many of these establishments were operating in violation of environmental norms.
The UPPCB had earlier submitted a report to the NGT on July 5, stating that it had issued show-cause notices to several 20 establishments in Vaishali, Vasundhara, Kaushambi, Sahibabad, and Raj Nagar district center for operating without consent to operate.
The board has also mentioned in the report that in case of non-availability of consent to operate, notices have been issued against the projects/hotels under provisions of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act and Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act.
However, the NGT was not satisfied with the report and took stern note of the “serious lapses” in the enforcement of environmental laws by the UPPCB during a hearing on September 4.
“The report filed by the respondent no. 1 - UPPCB shows serious lapses in enforcement of the environmental laws/norms by the concerned officers of the respondent no. 1 UPPCB itself. By its inaction, respondent no. 1 - UPPCB has allowed 12 establishments to operate without consent while 03 establishments have been allowed to operate after expiry of the consent. Show cause notices are stated to have been issued to the violators on June 22 but the same appears to be empty formality/an eye wash as there is nothing to show that any orders have been passed based on show cause notices despite the expiry of more than two months,” the tribunal said in its order.
The NGT also warned the UPPCB that it would be liable to pay environmental compensation and the defaulting officers would be liable to be prosecuted for abetment of environmental pollution along with the violators. The tribunal went further and said that UPPCB being an instrumentality of the State “is under constitutional as well as statutory obligation to enforce the environmental laws for protection and improvement of environment and for any inaction/negligence on its part in discharge of its obligation even respondent no. 1 -UPPCB will be liable to pay environmental compensation and the defaulting officer will be liable to be prosecuted for abetment of environmental pollution along with the violators and will also be subject to disciplinary action by the competent authorities.”
The tribunal then directed that UPPCB should conduct a survey and file an additional status report on three counts – details and a number of malls, hotels, eateries and restaurants operating in Ghaziabad district and required to obtain environment clearance (EC) from the State level Environment Impact Assessment Authority(SEIAA) and/or consent to establish (CTE)/consent to operate (CTO) from UPPCB; a number of such establishments in Ghaziabad which have not obtained either/or the EC and/or the CTE/CTO from UPPCB; and details of action taken against the erring establishments.
The lawyer representing the petitioner, Ruchin Mehra, said, “The report filed by UPPCB was not in order and the tribunal has taken a strict note of it and mentioned its observation in the order. We will now wait for the additional reports and will pursue the case as the purview has now been extended to entire Ghaziabad district.”
The present officials of UPPCB said that the report was filed during the tenure of the previous officials and the regional office also faces a severe shortage of staff.
“We will file the reports as sought by the NGT and take up compliance in accordance with the directions issued,” said Vikas Misra, regional officer of UPPCB.