NGT fines NCL Rs 10 cr for unscientific storing of 1.5 lakh tonnes coal in UP

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New Delhi, May 4 (IANS) The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Northern Coalfields Ltd (NCL) to pay a fine of Rs 10 crore for flouting environmental norms as it had unscientifically stored around 1.5 lakh tonnes of coal in Sonbhadra district of Uttar Pradesh.

A bench of Chairperson, Justice A. K. Goel (retd), judicial member Justice Sudhir Agarwal and expert member A. Senthil Vel was hearing a petition alleging violation of environmental norms by unlawful dumping of coal in 35 bighas area belonging to the NCL, which was in the vicinity of a residential area.

The NGT said that the NCL had failed to take the essential precautions to prevent air pollution and that the dumping of coal was harmful to the environment and public health, noting a report from an earlier-formed panel and a letter from the state Pollution Control Board (PCB).

It also said that the Rs 4.43 crore compensation determined by the state PCB was “inadequate”.

“The PCB has levied compensation on in-house formula which does not comply with parameters laid down by the Supreme Court but proceeds on presumed loss per day, irrespective of nature and extent of violation, cost of restoration and financial capacity of the violators.

“In the present case, the coal which was found stored was to the extent of about three lakh tonnes out of which about 50 per cent has since been lifted and remaining is still lying. Taking its value at the rate of Rs 10,000 per tonne, the value of stored material comes to Rs 30,000 crore,” the bench added.

Apart from bad effects on public health, the damage by such unscientific storing of coal has resulted in air pollution, ground and surface water contamination, it said.

“Considering the cost of restoration and turnover of the transactions involved, we determine, on conservative estimated cost, the compensation to be Rs 10 crore which may be deposited by the NCL with state PCB for restoration of environment by preparing an action plan which may include proper stocking/handling of the coal, taking measures to control dust emission and time bound remediation,” the bench said.

The bench gave two months’ time for the plan to be prepared by a joint committee of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), state PCB, District Magistrate, Sonbhadra and the Forest Department.

It also directed the state PCB to file an action taken report in two months.

“The committee may also ensure that the action points relating to controlling pollution of stocking and handling of coal be done to bring down the air index in the context of overall comprehensive environmental pollution index (CEPI). If more amount is required for restoration, NCL will be liable to pay the same,” it said.

The bench has listed the matter for next hearing on August 7.



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