The National Green Tribunal has directed the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) to “clarify and take immediate measures” to identify material generated from industrial processes or production residue as either waste or as a by-product.
The tribunal was hearing a matter regarding the non-implementation of the ‘Framework on Identification of Materials Generated from Industrial Processes as Wastes or By-Products’ issued by the Central Pollution Control Board.
The framework was issued in September 2019 after an NGT order.
Its purpose was to ensure that no hazardous waste was categorised as a by-product of production and escape the strict scrutiny of the Hazardous and Other Waste Management (HOWM) Rules, 2016.
According to the plea, the framework did not establish when a material generated from any production process should be considered a “by-product” and when it should be considered “waste.” Thus, the purpose for issuing it stood defeated, it said.
In an order passed on Friday, a bench of Acting Chairperson Justice S K Singh referred the matter to the MoEFCC as the issues raised required “further consideration.”
The bench also comprising Justice Arun Kumar Tyagi and expert member A Senthil Vel directed that the ministry “in consultation with the CPCB, State Pollution Control Boards (PCBs) and Pollution Control Committees (PCCs) had to clarify and take immediate measures for proper implementation of the framework on the identification of material generated from the industrial process as waste or by-product.”
It also asked the ministry to submit an action taken report within three months.
“MoEF&CC may also act on whether the framework can become a part of the HOWM Rules. In case of any need and requirement, the ministry or CPCB may take the advice of the Technical Expert Committee ” the tribunal said.
The matter has been posted for further proceedings on November 23.
The application was filed by the Society for the Protection of Environment and Biodiversity (SPENBIO).
During the proceedings, the applicant’s advocate, Sanjay Upadhyay, said the “absence of legal clarity” had led to an incorrect interpretation of what was “waste” and what was a “byproduct.”