The National Green Tribunal has rejected a plea by the Madhya Pradesh government seeking an extension of time for compliance of directions for waste management due to COVID-19.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice A K Goel said timelines which have been laid down by the tribunal are not out of the blue.
The tribunal said while COVID-19 is certainly an event which cannot be ignored, it has already taken it into account and the timeline for levy of compensation has been revised from April 1, 2020 to July 1, 2021 and extension of three months' time will apply to the directions for Solid Waste Management.
"They are to enforce the mandate of law laid down under the Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, the Air (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 and Rules framed thereunder and binding directions of the Supreme Court," the bench also comprising Justice S K Singh said.
"The tribunal does not have any jurisdiction to extend time or to permit activities which are crimes under the law of the land and also contempt of the orders of the Supreme Court," it said.
The NGT said extension earlier granted is only for taking coercive measures of recovering compensation.
"In fact, recovery of compensation is also not a coercive measure to recover the loss caused to the environment or utilising the said amount for remediation of the environment. Thus, there is no merit in the prayer for extension of time, which has to be rejected," the bench said.
The NGT also directed that the compensation recovered from violators may now be credited to a separate account with the Environment Department of the states/UTs, to be spent for restoration of the environment.