Set up special courts to try environment cases: KSPCB

The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) will request the Karnataka High Court to establish special courts to try environmental-related criminal cases.

The request is being made to ensure the speedy disposal of  200 such pending cases in various magistrate courts across the State — some of which have been pending for over two decades.

KSPCB Chairman Vaman Acharya told Deccan Herald that the Board will soon submit a memorandum to the Registrar, High Court, requesting the High Court to constitute special courts to try 219 criminal cases — the majority of which are against various municipalities in the State.

The Board will request one court for Bangalore, and a court each for all the districts.  Acharya explained that the request was being made because some cases date to the late-1990s.

“It is imperative that a special court is constituted for the speedy disposal of the pending cases.

“The magistrate courts, besides trying environmental-related cases, have to handle other criminal cases as well — leading to critical delays. But if special courts are set up then attention can be given to the environmental-related cases,” he said.

According to Acharya, the continued delay of cases related to narcotic drugs and pyschotropic substances, economic offences and Lokayukta, were addressed with the constitution of special courts.

Many cases pending

He explained that 382 criminal cases have been booked by KSPCB against violators of the water, air and environment protection acts over the years.

Of these, 60 cases have been booked under the Air Act; 116 cases under the Water Act and some 25 cases under the Environment Protection Act. But convictions have been low. Of the 160 cases which were disposed of, only 11 had ended in conviction.

Major violaters

The offenders include around 40 municipalities, including the erstwhile city municipal councils of Mahadevapura, K R Puram, Byatarayanapura, and Bommanahalli in Bangalore, Mysore City Corporation, town municipal councils of Ramadurga, Saudatti, Nippani and Gokak in Belgaum district and Bangalore Urban Water Supply Sewerage Board.

The major charge against most of these civic bodies involves the release of waste water directly into drinking water sources, and that fact that  sewage treatment plants were not set up, despite repeated warnings to do so.

Other violators include various mines, stone crushing units, construction companies and 17 other categories of industries.

Recently, Environment Minister S Shivanna had pulled up the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board for not expediting cases pending in the law office of the Board.

While 210 environment-related writ petitions/writ appeals are pending before the High Court, 55 cases are pending before the appellate authority.

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