NGT issues order to move garbage processing plant out of Baner
The National Green Tribunal (NGT), principal bench, has issued an order to move a garbage processing plant out of Baner, citing non-compliance of various environmental norms, including absence of a no-objection certificate from the Airport Authority of India.
The plant, run by Noble Exchange Environment Solution, Pune, on a hillock, violated environmental norms by building it in the vicinity of 12 residential societies, a temple, and HEMRL work site, among others.
The order was issued by a four member principal bench including chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar, judicial member Justice Sheo Kumar Singh, and expert members Nagin Nanda and Satyawan Singh Garbyal, on Tuesday, and made available on Wednesday.
The decision was issued via a video conference hearing of an application filed by the Sus Road Baner Vikas Manch, led by president Vinay Deshpande and secretary Harish Patil.
“There is violation of statutory sitting guidelines on the subject (of inhabitants in the vicinity). Nearest residential apartment has been found to be within 66 metres from the boundary of the plant. Housing societies are within 107 metres from the outer boundary of the plant and 15 apartments are within 200 metres of it. Thus, the plant is within the prohibited distance. There is no place for development of a green belt. According to the CPCB guidelines referred to in the report, a distance of 500 metres from the boundary of the inhabitation has to be maintained, but in a suitable case it can be 200 metres. There has to be a 10-metres green belt around the facility. Thus, the plant is in violation of the right to a clean environment of the inhabitants and is against statutory norms,” reads the order.
The residents have been fighting the issue in court for the past several years.
“There are many health issues. At least 22 health certificates related to breathing problems were submitted to the court. The lockdown was doubly difficult for us. Medha Kulkarni had also raised this issue in the state assembly when a woman living here had delivered prematurely. She had breathing issues,” said Deshpande.
“This plant was set up in violation of all environmental norms. There was tremendous odour in the vicinity and the residents were facing health hazards. The authorities were not acting upon the complaints and hence, we petitioned the NGT. The corporation did not maintain the mandatory buffer zone of 500 metres and kept granting building permissions blindly,” said advocate Saurabh Kulkarni, who is representing the residents.
After commencing in 2015, for two years, between 2017 and 2019, the plant had remained non-operational due to finance-related reasons. However, the plant started functioning again in the first quarter of 2019, after which, residents filed the application. The present application was filed on March 2, 2019.
NGT had constituted a joint committee of Central pollution control board (CPCB) and Maharashtra pollution control board (MPCB) to probe the matter. The committee submitted its report on October 10, 2019.
“The plant does not possess consent to operate and is operating after obtaining authorisation from MPCB. The plant started its operation from December 17, 2015 and continued till July 16, 2017 during which 5-10 MT/day of waste was processed till June 2016, and thereafter, about 100 MT/day till July 16, 2017. Thereafter, the plant was not in operation till March 18, 2019. It was informed that non-operation was due to sale related issues of gas generated by the company,” read the report.
Effectively, the tribunal has informed the respondents in the case to move the location of the plant.