Personally review progress of legacy waste remediation in Panchkula: NGT to Haryana chief secretary

The National Green Tribunal has directed the chief secretary of Haryana to personally review the progress of remediation of legacy waste at two dumping sites in Panchkula district.

The tribunal also deprecated the measures taken by the Panchkula municipal corporation, saying no accountability is being fixed for gross failures and continuing damage to the environment and practically no progress has been made on the remediation of legacy waste.

The NGT was hearing a petition alleging unscientific dumping of waste at a site near the Khol Hi-Raitan Wildlife Sanctuary in violation of environmental norms as well as conditions of environmental clearance (EC) in the district.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice A K Goel said that in January 2022, the tribunal had sought a report on the violations from a joint committee set up by the tribunal. The committee acknowledged the violations in November last year and suggested preventive and remedial measures to restore damage to the environment.

The bench also comprising judicial member Justice Sudhir Agarwal along with expert member A Senthil Vel said that after accepting the report, directions were issued for further action and the tribunal asked municipal corporations of Panchkula and Kalka to pay compensation of Rs 9 crore and Rs 1 crore, respectively.

The bench noted that according to its earlier directions, a report dated May 2 was filed by Panchkula municipal corporation’s commissioner stating that the amount of compensation was deposited and measures initiated for remediation of the legacy waste at the dumping sites in Sector-23 and Jhuriwala.

During the proceedings, the bench said, “We have heard counsel for the appearing parties and find that the progress depicted in the status report can hardly be accepted as satisfactory by any standard.”

“No accountability is being fixed for gross failures and continuing damage to the environment and public health, and there is practically no progress in the remediation of legacy waste,” it said.

The bench also said it is surprising that the municipal corporations of Panchkula and Kalka are transporting waste to Ambala which cannot be sustainable on a long-term basis and may lead to mismanagement.

“Reclaimed land at Jhuriwala or Sector 23 should be utilised for dense plantation as directed by the tribunal… Situation needs to be handled in a mission mode in view of continuing failures so far,” it said.

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Noting that the joint committee had only met twice in the last six months and taken no tangible steps, the tribunal said the panel has not been able to achieve even the minimum.

“We, thus, direct that the chief secretary, Haryana to review the progress personally to bring about an effective road map in the interest of environment and public health,” the bench said.

It also sought an action taken report showing tangible progress in the execution of remediation of legacy waste, including the functioning of the waste-to-energy plant, to be filed after approval of the chief secretary within two months.

The matter has been posted for further hearing on August 7.

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