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Based on NGT's Vapi order, polluting units across India told to compensate for eco-loss

By Our Representative
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has asked the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the Government of India’s anti-pollution watchdog, to coordinate with State PCBs to make an assessment of compensation to be recovered from polluting units for the period of last five years, taking into account the cost of restoration and cost of damage to the public health and environment and the deterrence element.
The NGT said in an order that the scale of deterrence “may be related to the period and the frequency of defaults”, insisting, “No further industrial activities or expansion be allowed with regard to ‘red’ and ‘orange’ category units till the said areas are brought within the prescribed parameters or till carrying capacity of area is assessed and new units or expansion is found viable having regard to the carrying capacity of the area and environmental norms.”
The NGT order follows the CPCB coming up with a new Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index (CEPI) for 100 top polluting industrial areas/clusters monitored in 2018, rating Tarapur (Maharashtra) as the most polluted with a CEPI of 93.69, followed by Najafgarh-Drain basin, including Anand Parbat, Naraina, Okhla, Wazirpur (Delhi), with a CEPI of 92.65, Mathura (UP) with a CEPI of 91.1, Kanpur (UP) with a CEPI of 89.46, and Vadodara (Gujarat) with a CEPI of 89.09.
The order states, pending “assessment of compensation, interim compensation be recovered” at the scale adopted by NGT “in the case of Vapi Industrial area” in Gujarat, where high levels of water pollution was “caused” by the absence of or dysfunctional of effluent treatment plants (ETPs).
The Vapi order, dated January January 11, 2019 had directed that “all defaulting industries, other than green and white category”, connected with a Central Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP), be “asked to make deposits with CPCB towards interim environmental compensation, pending assessment of actual compensation and further action on the following scale: (i) Large industries Rs 1 crore each (ii) medium industries Rs 50 lakh each (iii) small industries Rs 25 lakh each.”
The order, passed by the NGT bench consisting of Adarsh Kumar Goel as chairperson, SP Wangdi and K Ramakrishnan as judicial members and Dr Nagin Nanda and expert member, in a case taken up following a news item in “The Asian Age”, “CPCB to rank industrial units on pollution levels", asked CPCB in coordination with all state PCBs to come up “within three months a compliance report”. Passed keeping in view the "polluted pays" principle,  the next hearing has been kept for November 5, 2019.

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