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Friday, August 07, 2020

Once norms violated, Haryana has no authority to grant extension to stone crushers: NGT

The Haryana Pollution Control Board (HPCB) had been giving rampant extensions to various stone crushers across the state despite the fact that many of those were blatantly violating environmental norms.

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh | Published: July 25, 2020 2:08:47 pm
HPCB informed the NGT that out of 56 such stone crushers, 10 had been closed, 39 were complying with the norms and out of the remaining seven, five were ordered to be closed while proceedings for closure were pending against two. Express Photo: Partha Paul (Representational)

The National Green Tribunal has come down heavily on the Haryana government questioning the state’s authority under which it was giving repeated extensions to the stone crushers violating pollution norms.

While deciding an October 31, 2018 execution application filed by Sardar Patel Jan Chetna Education Society, the NGT has ruled, “We find that the State of Haryana has no jurisdiction to grant time once there is violation of environmental norms. The State is bound by the Public Trust Doctrine to enforce environment norms as such safeguards are part of fundamental right of citizens to life.”

Lambasting the state government, the NGT remarked, “Once it is so, the State has no discretion to waive compliance only on the plea of avoiding litigation. The said waiver being against the principle of sustainable development, to enforced by this Tribunal under Section 20 of the NGT Act, has to be declared non-est. Let further action be taken and compliance report filed before the next date by e-mail at judicialngt@gov.in preferably in the form of searchable PDF/ OCR Support PDF and not in the form of Image PDF.”

The Haryana Pollution Control Board (HPCB) had been giving rampant extensions to various stone crushers across the state despite the fact that many of those were blatantly violating environmental norms.

In its reply, the HPCB informed the NGT that out of 56 such stone crushers, 10 had been closed, 39 were complying with the norms and out of the remaining seven, five were ordered to be closed while proceedings for closure were pending against two. The HPCB also mentioned that the Haryana government, in an order dated May 19, had granted extension of time to stone crushers that were not meeting the criteria.

However, apparently not buying the HPCB’s assertions, the NGT has asked Haryana to submit an action taken report before January 14, 2021, when the matter will come up for hearing again.

The NGT had earlier also directed the Haryana government to finalise a detailed plan regarding distance of stone crushers from the educational institutions.

“According to the applicant Sardar Patel Jan Chetna Education Society, the Mines and Geology Department of the State of Haryana had issued a Notification dated September 28, 1992 notifying ‘Haryana Regulation and Control of Crusher Rules, 1992’. Rule 3 (5) of the Noise Pollution Rules provides for 100 meters area around educational institutions and hospitals being declared as silence area. The said distance was subsequently increased to 250 metres vide Notification dated September 25, 2017. There is also requirement for precautions for protection of forest, water bodies, health treatment units etc. Some of the States had issued notifications laying down distance from educational institutions within which no stone crusher can be set up,” the plea had said.

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