The National Green Tribunal has directed a joint panel headed by Taj Trapezium Zone Pollution Authority and the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board to prepare a remedial action plan in a plea alleging environmental violations hazard to the Yamuna river and Taj Mahal.
The principal bench of the NGT headed by Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel was hearing a plea against the operation of stone crushers and other such industries in the Agra district in violation of environmental norms.
As per the petitioner, the stone crushers are also using groundwater by deep boring without requisite permission. They are neither maintaining distance nor safe distance from the habitations. The pollution is adversely affecting the public health and the environment apart from being a hazard to the Yamuna river and Taj Mahal, it said.
Acting on the grievance, a joint committee had, on February 22 reported that some units were found operating while some units were not operating. They were extracting groundwater which stands exempted by the state from regulation for the small industries. It was also found that out of 35 units, only 16 units are operational having valid consent from the State Pollution Control Board, and rest of the 19 units are closed as per the direction of closure order issued from the State Pollution Control Board.
As the village land of Tantpur, Ghaskata and Gugaband is not too much fertile and has rocky land, the only business is red stone cutting and selling of stone pieces, it said.
After hearing the submissions, the tribunal said: “We are of the opinion that the report mentioned above is not complete. The units in question may be small falling in Green Category as per classification of CPCB, as submitted by the State PCB. There can be no objection to helping them in all legal ways but not at the cost of the right of other citizens to access potable water and to clean environment, including conservation of groundwater meant for all.”
Referring to the Supreme Court order, the tribunal said permitting small industries in Taj areas can also not mean violation of environmental norms when the so-called green category is not in fact environmentally benign.
Accordingly, the green court asked the concerned departments to hold a joint meeting within one month and prepare an action plan for remedial action in regard to the ground situation to support the ‘Sustainable Development’ principle.