NGT refrains from imposing Rs 1,138-crore fine on Odisha after state govt's undertaking

NewsDrum Desk
28 Jan 2023

New Delhi, Jan 28 (PTI) The National Green Tribunal (NGT), for the time being, has refrained from slapping a fine of Rs 1,138 crore on the Odisha government for improper management of solid and liquid waste.

The green panel noted that the state government had submitted an undertaking, saying Rs 1,152 crore will soon be credited to a separate ring-fenced account for the management of solid and liquid waste.

A bench comprising chairperson Justice AK Goel noted that there was a gap of 514 million litres daily (MLD) in sewage generation and treatment, besides the legacy waste of 37 lakh metric tonnes.

The bench, also comprising judicial member Justice Arun Kumar Tyagi and expert members A Senthil Vel and Afroz Ahmad, said it was the responsibility and absolute liability of the state government to have a comprehensive time-bound plan with tied-up resources to control pollution.

"Long future dates, breach of which has taken place frequently in the past without accountability, is not a convincing solution. It is a poor substitute for compliance...," the bench said.

It is the mindset and determination to act on a mission mode that can produce results, it added.

"We hope that in the light of the interaction with the chief secretary, the state of Odisha will take further measures in the matter by an innovative approach and stringent monitoring, ensuring that 37 lakh tones of legacy waste and 514 million litres per day liquid waste generation and treatment are bridged at the earliest, shortening the proposed timelines, adopting alternative or interim measures to the extent and wherever found viable," the bench said.

It will also be open to the state to plan to raise the requisite funds from generators or contributors of waste or by any other legal means, it added.

"In normal circumstances, the state would be liable to pay a compensation of about Rs 1,138 crore at the scale of compensation fixed in other states. However, it is stated that in Odisha, a higher amount stands allocated and Rs 1,152 crore will soon be credited to a separate ring-fenced account for the purpose," the tribunal said.

Taking note of the state government's undertaking, the green panel said, "We refrain from levying environmental compensation on the state of Odisha for the time being. The ring-fenced account may be kept as a 'non-lapsable' fund." It directed the chief secretary of the state to file six monthly progress reports.

The NGT is monitoring the compliance with the Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 and other environmental issues by states and Union territories. PTI MNR RC

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