The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has imposed an environmental compensation of Rs 3,500 crore on the state of West Bengal for allegedly not managing solid as well as liquid waste, causing harm to the environment.
“The final amount of compensation under the two heads (solid and liquid waste) is assessed at Rs 3,500 crore, which may be deposited by the state of West Bengal in a separate ring-fenced account within two months, to be operated as per the directions of the Chief Secretary and utilise for restoration measures,” said an NGT bench headed by its chairperson Justice (Retd) Adarsh Kumar Goel.
The order added that the restoration measures, including preventing discharge of untreated sewage and solid waste treatment/processing facilities, as per appropriate mechanism for planning and execution that may be evolved, should be carried out within three months.
The order said if violations continue, liability to pay additional compensation may have to be considered. Compliance will be the responsibility of the Chief Secretary, it said.
The green court clarified that the compensation became necessary under Section 15 of the NGT Act to remedy the continuing damage to the environment and to comply with the directions of the Supreme Court requiring this tribunal to monitor enforcement of norms for solid and liquid waste management.
“Moreover, without fixing quantified liability necessary for restoration, mere passing of orders has not shown any tangible results in the last eight years (for solid waste management) and five years (for liquid waste management), even after expiry of statutory/laid down timelines. Continuing damage is required to be prevented in future and past damage is to be restored,” the order read.
Compliance of environmental norms on the subject of waste management has to be high on priority. The tribunal has come across cases of serious neglect and continuing damage to the environment in the absence of inadequate steps for treatment of solid and liquid waste, the order said.
“We are of the view that issues have been identified and monitored by the tribunal for a long time. It is high time that the state realises its duty to law and to citizens and adopts further monitoring at its own level,” the order read.