West Bengal pays ₹3,500 crore fine on NGT order for failing to manage waste
On September 1, this year the NGT ordered the West Bengal government to deposit the amount in a ring-fenced account after the bench found huge lapses in the management of solid and liquid waste in the state
The West Bengal government paid a compensation of ₹3,500 crore as imposed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) for failing to manage tonnes of solid and liquid waste generated in the state.
“The state urban development and municipal affairs department created two separate ring-fenced accounts and the sum of ₹3,500 crore has been deposited,” the state informed the green bench.
Also Read: NGT dismisses Karnataka’s plea to modify earlier levied fine of ₹500 cr
On September 1, this year the NGT ordered the West Bengal government to deposit the amount in a ring-fenced account after the bench found huge lapses in the management of solid and liquid waste in the state.
A data submitted in the NGT earlier this year by the state’s chief secretary HK Dwivedi reveals that West Bengal produces around 13,469 tonnes per day (TPD) of solid waste out of which only around 5,994 TPD is segregated and around 3,047 TPD of waste is processed. Around 10,422 TPD solid waste remains unprocessed.
“Unprocessed legacy waste remains the source of air, water and land pollution resulting in damage to the environment and public health,” the NGT bench said in September and warned that remedial measures must be taken within six months.
A senior official of the state environment department said according to the NGT order, the amount would be operated as per directions of the chief secretary and utilised for restoration measures.
“This would include preventing the discharge of untreated sewage and solid waste treatment. The planning and execution would have to be evolved within three months. If violations continue additional compensation may be imposed,” said the official.
According to the order of NGT, for failure in liquid waste management processing, “ the liability of the state is to pay compensation of ₹2,980 crores, rounded off to ₹3,000 crore in view of continuing damage.”
Also Read:SC stays NGT order against Rajasthan govt
For failure to process solid waste, the compensation to be paid is ₹500 crore, the NGT said.
The bench of the tribunals headed by justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, justice Sudhir Agarwal and A. Senthil Vel, an expert member, passed the order on September 1 stating “it is necessary to determine accountability for the past failures causing huge damage to the environment and public health and to meet the cost of remediation.”
“Moreover, without fixing quantified liability necessary for restoration, the mere passing of orders has not shown any tangible results in the last eight years, even after the expiry of timelines. Continuing damage is required to be prevented in future and past damage is to be restored,” the bench stated.
The NGT imposed similar compensation against other states, including Rajasthan and ordered the state to pay ₹3,000 in compensation. The Rajasthan government, however, moved the Supreme Court and in a major relief to the state earlier this month, the top court stayed the NGT’s order.
Slamming the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government, Ritwick Dutta, senior environment lawyer said a mere fine will not make a difference, the garbage mismanagement will continue.
“Depositing the amount in a ring-fenced account is not actually imposing a compensation where the polluter is made to pay. Garbage mismanagement will continue. The amount may look hefty but just transferring the amount from one head of the government to another account won’t solve the problem of waste management. It is not just governmental failure. It is also a people’s failure. There has to be a cultural change with regard to littering and people’s participation,” he said.