Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding environment management in Puri, Odisha, 14/08/2020

  • 14/08/2020

Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of Subhas Datta Vs Union of India & Others dated 14/08/2020.

The case related to construction of sewage treatment plant (STP), laying of sewage line and improvement of the cremation ground in Puri as well as removal of sheds and unauthorized and illegal structures raised in the coastal regulation zone (CRZ) area.

Brief History of the Case: 

Questions arose during the course of the proceedings over the implementation of the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016, mitigation measures to be taken for protection and conservations of the aquifers, measures to deal with the depletion of the ground water in Puri municipal area which included adopting rain water harvesting system and others. Directions were issued from time to time on these aspects.

The Tribunal had also constituted a high level with the Chief Secretary as the Chairperson vide order dated October 22, 2013. The Committee was entrusted to deal with the various issues arising in the case. Another Committee was constituted vide order of April 20, 2018 for monitoring the health of the aquifers/sweet water. The NGT noted that various directions were issued and reports called for from time to time on the questions involved in the case.

"Pursuit by the Applicant and the directions issued by the Tribunal broke the slumber of the concerned authorities who were activated to take up the issues proactively," the order said. The Tribunal in the course of the case, ordered for the constitution of a new committee in place of the "inactive" committee chaired by the Chief Secretary.

The Committee filed its report before the court, which mentioned the progress of the Environment Management Plan (EMP) and the status of other activities.

The request for proposal (RFP)/terms of reference (TOR) for engagement of technical expert/organization/sector/agency - to prepare draft EMP for Puri, Odisha has been uploaded to the Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) website. Sweet water aqua area was jointly surveyed by the Central Pollutiob Control Board (CPCB) and OSPCB.

The Committee recommended that entire sweet water zone should be free from any kind of encroachment to preserve the sweet water aquifers. Sub-Collector and Tehsildar, Puri were instructed to keep strict vigil in those areas. The Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) of 5 MLD capacity was functioning well at Bankimuhan to treat the waste water flowing in the storm water drain before discharge to the sea. Two pumping stations were functional at present for diversion of waste water flowing in sea beach drain to the inlet point of Bankimuhan WWTP.

Presently the treated effluent from WWTP was discharged at the outfall point and then discharged to sea. The effluent quality was being monitored with regard to approved standard regularly by Jamshedpur Utilities and Services Company Ltd (JUSCO) in in-house laboratory as well as OSPCB at intervals.

Regarding solid waste management of Puri town, the solid waste from households were being collected in segregated manner like dry waste and wet waste. Two micro compost centers (MCC) were already in operation where wet solid wastes were converted to organic compost. 15 self-help group members are working in these MCCs, according to the report.

NGT Order of August 14, 2020: 

Justice Sonam Phintso Wangdi of the NGT said that "the case need not be kept pending" for implementing the steps mentioned in the report of the Committee. Thus, the Original Application was disposed off by the NGT.

The Committee was directed to ensure that all the steps indicated in the status report should be completed without fail in terms of the timeline stated. Special attention should be given to the preparation of the EMP for Puri the process of which shall be completed expeditiously and, as far as it may be practicable, within one year from hence. The Committee would continue to monitor execution of the actions proposed in the report.