Maharashtra: NGT Asks 100 Industrial Units To Pay Rs 186 Crore Compensation For Water Pollution


The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has ordered around 100 industrial units in Tarapur MIDC area of Maharashtra’s Palghar district to collectively pay around Rs 186 crore as environmental compensation for polluting water bodies in the region by releasing untreated effluents into them.

In the order passed on January 24, the tribunal also pulled up the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for failing to take action under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) against the industrial units despite offences like releasing untreated pollutants into water bodies, and said this “inaction” has encouraged them to continue with the violations “with impunity”. It said the ED was taking action under the PMLA in a “narrow sphere” although the scope of the law was widened in 2013 after amendments.

Apart from the industrial units, the tribunal directed the Tarapur Environment Protection Society’s central effluent treatment plant (CETP) to pay a compensation of Rs 91.79 crore, and asked the MIDC to pay to Rs 2 crore. The compensation has to be paid within three months to the MPCB, it said. The amount shall be utilised for the restoration of environment and healthcare activities of people in the area under the guidance and supervision of a committee, it said.

The order, which runs into 500 pages, was passed on the complaint filed by Akhil Bharatiya Mangela Samaj Parishad and its office bearers. It was made available on Saturday.

NGT’s judicial member Justice Sudhir Agarwal observed that raising grievance of discharge of untreated effluents into the Arabian Sea at Navapur, and into the creeks and nullahs in the vicinity, in flagrant violations of provisions of various Acts, the present application was filed by four applicants.

The affected water bodies, according to the applicants, include Murbe creek, Murbe-Satpati creek and Navapur-Dandi creek, and the affected villages include Tarapur, Kamboda, Ghivali, Uchheli, Dandi, Navapur, Alevadi, Murabe, Kharekuran, Satapati, Shirganv, Wadarai, Tembi, Dadara, Mahim and Kelave, it said.

Tarapur is an industrial town. The industrial area of Tarapur, set up by the MIDC, is spread in and around 15 villages with population of 1,03,208 as per the 2011 census. The villagers are engaged in fishing activity. Their grievance is that although their livelihood is dependent on the water bodies, the respondents are causing damage to environment in general and water bodies in particular, it added.

The order said that in the present case, environmental norms were not followed through non-operation of ETPs (effluent treatment plants) or by discharging partially or totally untreated pollutants into water. The revenue earned through such offence is proceeds of crime as defined in the PMLA 2002. The entire activity is covered by Section 3 of the PMLA.

More than eight and half years have passed, but not a single action has been taken by the ED against violators committing offences under environmental statutes, which have been included in the Schedule, part A of PMLA 2002, it said. Since the competent authority has never resorted to proceed against violators of environmental statutes despite committing offences, this inaction has encouraged polluters to continue violation with impunity, the NGT order said.

The NGT ordered a committee, which is already in place, to monitor the compliance of its order and place its report before it.

Source: Financial Express
Photo courtesy: Financial Express


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