NGT raps C'garh govt over road for coal transport

NGT raps Chhattisgarh for not constructing road for transporting coal from mines

The NGT directed the govt to ensure necessary action on construction of road and providing healthcare facilities

Representative image. Credit: Reuters file photo

The National Green Tribunal has rapped the Chhattisgarh government for not constructing a road for transporting coal from mines to thermal power plants to minimise air pollution.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel directed the chief secretary, Chhattisgarh to ensure necessary action on the part of departments concerned on the subject of construction of road and providing healthcare facilities and drinking water to those affected by air pollution in the area.

“The State Board should prepare a list of areas where unscientific disposal of fly ash has taken place and generate data about the quantity of the coal mined, used in industries and available for thermal power plants," the bench said.

“Steps need to be taken expeditiously for development of health facilities, constructing necessary road from Raigarh to Dharamjaygarh and from Punjipatra to Milupara, disposal of fly ash in abandoned coal mines and constitution of State Level Committee to look into scientific utilisation of the fly ash. Taking such steps is undoubtedly necessary for protection of the environment,” the bench said.

The NGT asked the Oversight Committee formed by it to make assessment of compensation for the violations on the basis of which the statutory State Board may take further action, following due process of law. 

“We regret to note failure of departments concerned of the State of Chhattisgarh to respond to the Committee and to perform their Constitutional obligation to protect environment and public health. 

“Any negligence by State authorities may result in rendering the concerned senior officers personally accountable by way of prosecution under the provisions of the NGT Act, imprisonment under section 25 NGT Act read with section 51 CPC and exemplary costs out of their salaries,” the bench said.

The NGT said that having regard to the seriousness of the issues involved and their impact on the environment and public health, the Oversight Committee will now be headed by Justice V K Shrivastava, former Judge of Chhattisgarh High Court, available at Bilaspur. 

“He will be entitled to honorarium at the rate of Rs. 2 lakhs per month, apart from logistic support for the purpose of work of the Committee. His tenure will be for six months from the date he joins the first meeting of the Committee, which may be done within one month.

“The amount will be payable by the State PCB - Chhattisgarh Environment Conservation Board. The report about the compliance status as on November 30, 2021 may be furnished to this Tribunal on or before December 15, 2021 by e-mail,” the bench said.

The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by Shivpal Bhagat and others seeking steps against pollution caused by thermal power plants, coal washeries in Tamnar and Gharghoda blocks of Raigarh in Chhattisgarh, including Jindal Power Limited, Jindal Power and Steel Ltd, TRN Energy Pvt Ltd, Mahavir Energy & Coal Benefaction Ltd, Hindalco Industries Ltd and Monet Energy Ltd, SECL. 

The plea said the operation of these units is resulting in contamination of air, water and land and having adverse impact on the environment and the habitants.

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox