The National Green Tribunal has rapped the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for not abiding by its directions on implementation of a notification on air pollution emission standards and water consumption for coal-based thermal power plants. A bench headed by Justice Jawad Rahim came down heavily on the Environment Ministry for not filing the document as per its direction within the stipulated time.
Irked at the approach of the ministry, the green panel summoned the Director of the MoEF, who had earlier filed a “misleading” affidavit, and directed him to appear before it on October 4, the next date of hearing. “Direction issued by us has not been complied. Though the counsel for MoEF submits that report has been filed which we notice, least we could say about that it is misleading and is not in terms of our direction. The affidavit as directed has not been filed. We direct presence of deponent in the affidavit, namely, Dr Sunamani Kereketta, Director, MoEF before the tribunal on the next date of hearing,” the bench said.
The lawyer appearing for the MoEF had earlier told the NGT that the ministry was contemplating setting up a committee to ascertain whether the thermal power plants have complied with the notification. However, the tribunal had declined the suggestion saying that, “having issued the notification its enforcement is the primary and statutory duty of the ministry itself through its instrumentality.”
The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by environment activist Sunil Dahiya seeking direction to the Environment Ministry and all the State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) to ensure that all new approvals comply with the standards provided in the December 7, 2015 notification. According to the plea, the ministry had promulgated the notification to bring about a reduction in air pollution and water consumption by thermal power plants across the country.
Dahiya had also said that as per the notification, coal thermal power plants installed after January 1 this year should adhere to stricter air pollution norms and the ones installed before December 31, 2016 were given time till December 7, 2017 for compliance.