HSPCB told to recover penalty of ₹4.13 cr penalty from Panipat sugar mill
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Haryana State Pollution Control Board to immediately recover ₹4.13 crore penalty imposed on Panipat Cooperative Sugar Mill for illegal extraction of groundwater in April this year.
The bench headed by the NGT chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel observed that no step has been taken for recovery by using coercive powers of closure and disconnecting electricity, after giving reasonable opportunity for compliance.
“The HSPCB may take further remedial action by preventing violations of law and recovering compensation assessed by using coercive powers available. The compensation recovered may be utilised for restoration of environment by preparing an action plan,” read the order.
Following a complaint by a local councillor last year, the NGT had formed a joint committee under the HSPCB to look into the matter. Based on the ground inspections, the HSPCB, in its report, stated that the sugar mill was located in an “over-exploited area” but it had been extracting groundwater using a borewell, to meet its water requirements. This was done without the permission of the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) and was hence illegal.
The illegal extraction had taken place from April 15, 2015 to December 12, 2020.
HSPCB member secretary S Narayanan told HT that they will comply with the directions of the NGT and initiate actions for recovery of compensation and restoration of the environment as per its directions.
In August last year, taking a serious note of environmental violations by the sugar mill, the NGT had ordered closure of sugar and distillery units at Panipat Cooperative Sugar Mill until remedial measures are taken.
As per the previous orders of the NGT, “the norms under the Water Act, the Air Act and the Environment Protection Act are also not being followed, which amounts to criminal offences. Groundwater is being illegally extracted which may seriously and irreversibly affect the environment.”