New Delhi, May 7 (PTI) The National Green Tribunal has levied a total fine of Rs 50 crore on four housing projects in Ghaziabad district, including the Uttar Pradesh Aawas and Vikas Parishad, for flouting environmental rules. The NGT was hearing a petition alleging violation of environmental norms by four project proponents (PPs), Uttar Pradesh Aawas and Vikas Parishad (UPAVP), Prateek Realtors India Pvt Ltd, Apex Heights Pvt Ltd and Gaur and Sons India Pvt Ltd in developing construction projects at Ghaziabad.
According to the petition, the major violations include inadequacy of plantations and sewage treatment plants resulting in continuing damage to the environment and public health.
A bench of chairperson Justice A K Goel said on consideration of rival versions and reports of the joint committee (comprising state pollution control board and District Magistrate of Ghaziabad formed earlier by the tribunal), we find there are violations which need to be remedied and accountability that needs to be fixed on the polluter pays principles, besides duly utilising compensation amount for restoration of the environment.
The bench also comprising judicial member Justice Sudhir Agarwal and expert member A Senthil Vel then underlined the violations by the four PP’s. “UPAVP has constructed and sold 1,844 economically weaker section (EWS homes) – 1,376 homes are under Kanshi Ram Scheme and 1,292 homes in Ganga, Yamuna and Hindon Apartments Scheme. None of the said schemes have captive sewage treatment plants (STPs) and sewage is being carried by trunk sewer line and disposed of in open areas and the sewer line is not connected to the terminal STP which is still under construction,” the bench said. It said before handing over the project to the Nagar Nigam, it was mandatory for UPAVP to set up the requisite sewage treatment facility which was not done and there were also violations about the green belt and uncontrolled dust from roads. Regarding Prateek Realtors, the bench said it has not been mentioned as to whether at that time of occupation by the inhabitants, STPs were in operation and the green belt does not cover the area in terms of environmental clearance (EC). “With regard to Gaur, the project has been operationalised without the requisite consent to operate (CTO) and completion certificate. Possession has been given and 550 families are residing and STP was found non-operational…Green belt is not in terms of EC,” the bench said. It also underlined the violations by Apex Heights, which included non-mentioning whether STPs were operational at that time of occupation by the inhabitants and the absence of the completion certificate at the time of occupation. Determining the quantum of compensation for violations by UPAVP, the tribunal said, “Having regard to the magnitude of the project and violations – the inadequacy of green belt, absence of sewage treatment, not preventing dust pollution, pending further consideration, we estimate cost of restoration to be not less than Rs 20 crore.” “Cost of restoring damage to the environment by violations by the remaining three projects is estimated at a minimum of Rs 10 crore each, having regard to the fact that the projects are big in size with a turnover of more than Rs 500 crore each,” the tribunal added. The green panel said the total estimated cost of restoration of Rs 50 crore had to be deposited with the state PCB, which was to be utilised for the restoration of the environment. “Restoration measures may be in the direction to upgrade solid waste management systems, including reuse of treated water. Further, in view of the dilapidated condition of roads leading to increased PM10/PM2.5 levels and contamination of water due to the discharge of waste, remedial measures be planned for improving air quality and the overall environment,” it said. The tribunal further said that the joint committee had to verify further facts about the date of the functionality of STPs and date of occupation and period of default in respect of green belt. “The committee may also verify the source of water during the construction and operational phase. Such report may be furnished within two months…If the estimated cost of restoration is found to be higher, the compensation fixed may have to be revised,” the tribunal said. The matter has been posted for further proceedings on August 10. PTI MNR DV DV
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