Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding waste management, water management by the Railways, 18/08/2020

  • 18/08/2020

Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of Saloni Singh & Others Vs Union of India & Others dated 18/08/2020.

The issue for consideration is compliance of Plastic and Solid Waste Management Rules at railway compartments, stations, tracks etc., removal of encroachments from the railway properties, preventing of unlawful discharge of effluents and judicious management of water, including its recycling and re-use by the Railways. The matter has been considered from time to time by various orders of this Tribunal in the last six years. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had filed its report dated July 13, 2020.

The report informed the Tribunal that teams of CPCB and concerned State PCBs/PCCs conducted performance assessment of 36 stations in terms of requirement of the Water Act, 1974, the Air Act and the EP Act and Rules framed thereunder. An Expert Committee of the CPCB categorised railway stations into red, orange and green categories. The report had given an overview of the Environmental Performance Assessment of Railway Stations. The Ministry of Railway had also filed zonal railway wise achievement and status report on August 17, 2020.

NGT accepted the recommendations of the CPCB and directed the Railways to take further action in terms of the report. As per CPCB report, only 11 have applied for ‘consent’ in terms of the Water Act and Air Act and only 3 have applied for ‘authorisation’ under the statutory rules under the EP Act. The remaining major railway stations (out of total 720) should apply for requisite consents/ authorisations within three months from today, the NGT said. However, charges would be payable only from April 1, 2020 and arrears should not be paid.

The decision on consents/authorizations would be taken within three months thereafter. For failure to comply with the law, the CPCB/ State PBCs/ PCCs/other statutory authorities would be at liberty to take coercive measures as per law.

The Railway Board may have its own monitoring mechanism at different levels, including headquarters for compiling information of status of compliance of environmental laws. Apart from ensuring compliance of mandate of ensuring environmental norms generally, the State PCBs/PCCs in particular should ensure compliance of statutory rules including the waste management. The zonal/divisional railway authorities have to submit a declaration to the concerned State PCBs/PCCs.