The National Green Tribunal has directed encashment of Rs two crore bank guarantee deposited by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) for its failure to clear legacy waste and said that the amount may be used for restoration of the environment.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said the PMC is liable to pay compensation for continued violations of the statutory norms for clearing the legacy waste.
The green panel said that it has already issued time bound directions for clearance of legacy waste sites for ensuring compliance of Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 and as per Rule 22, the time frame for implementation and the time limits for bio-remediation was five years from the commencement of the Rules which ended in April, 2021.
"Since the legacy waste site has not been cleared as stipulated, bank guarantee of Rs two crore, furnished by the PMC to guarantee compliance and on failure encashment, is liable to be encashed. The PMC may deposit the said amount in a separate account coordinating with the concerned Bank.
"The amount may be utilised for restoration of the environment under an action plan, to be prepared by the PMC but approved by the State PCB. The Secretary, Environment, Maharashtra may monitor compliance of the directions issued vide order dated July 11, 2020 addressed to the Municipal Commissioner, Pune," the bench said.
The tribunal directed that the state pollution control board and the Environment Department may take necessary requisite measures for ensuring compliance of the statutory Rules, following due process of law and compensation may be assessed and recovered for continued violations.
"The PMC may file a status report before the next date giving the extent of waste still remaining at the site and the timeline by which the same will be finally cleared, status of establishment of Waste Processing plants and their performance in terms of management of rejects coming out of plants, avoiding dumping as Sanitary Landfilling (SLF). MPCB and CPCB may jointly give a report on execution of biomining as per the guidelines of CPCB," the tribunal said.
The NGT directed that the status report be filed by e-mail before October 26, the next date of hearing.
The tribunal was hearing an application filed by Bhagwan Laxman Bhadale and others seeking enforcement of the 2018 order of NGT directing scientific disposal of the dumped waste amounting to 2.3 lakhs metric tonnes and also other waste continuously generated in the extended limits of Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC).
It is further stated on behalf of the petitioners that the PMC was required to furnish bank guarantee of Rs two crore to ensure compliance of order but since the order has not complied with, the bank guarantee needs to be encashed invoking the 'Polluters Pays' principle and the amount be utilised for restoration of the environment.
In support of the submission that the waste processing has still not been completed, reference has been made in the plea to a letter from the Principal Secretary, Environment, Maharashtra to the effect that apart from the already existing waste, 250 MT waste per day was in excess of the treatment.
Similarly, as against generation of 750MLD of liquid waste, only 540MLD was being treated and the remaining released in the environment without treatment, it said.