1. Pollution Boards to be renamed:
The government has decided to change the nomenclature of Pollution Control Boards to Environmental Protection Authorities. This was announced on December 7, 1995 by the then Union Minister of Environment and Forests Mr. Rajesh Pilot at a press conference following a two day meeting of the chairman of Pollution Control Boards.
2. Information to be made public:
The government will make public all information on industries under investigation for environmental pollution. This was also said by the Union Minister of Environment and Forests, at the press conference on December 7,1995.
3. Delhi - the pollution capital:
Delhi is the pollution capital of the country as over 1600 metric tonnes of vehicular pollutants are pumped into Delhi atmosphere each day 5 hrs figure is 50 per cent higher than the sum of vehicular pollutants in Bombay, Calcutta and Bangalore. This was revealed by the Union Minister of Environment and Fortests in reply to a parliamentary question. About 200 mT of pollutants are injected into Delhi daily out of which 64 per cent are from motor vehicles, 16 per cent comes from the two thermal power plants, industries contribute 13 per cent and the residential colonies are responsible for the remaining 7 per cent. Everyday about 6000 tonnes of ply ash and about 4750 tonnes of garbage get deposited on its surface.
4. Coastal environment:
An Advisory Environment Committee for Coastal States set up by the Union Environment Ministry in 1995 severely indicted the Goa government for turning a blind eye to the violation of coastal regulations. the Environment Committee of the State sought to dilute the gravity of the situation by grossly underplaying violations exposed by the Advisory Committee in Environment. The Union Minister of Environment and Forests decided to use a carrot and stick policy. On one hand he asked the State government to explore the ban on constitution within 500 meters of the high tide time, while on the other hand he asked the State government to prepare a Rs. 100 crore programme to protect the environment in coastal areas for which he assured his Ministry s financial share.
5. Hazardous chemicals:
The Manufacture storage and Import of Hazardous Chemicals Rules (MISIHC Rules), 1989 under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 are likely to be extended soon by the Ministry of Environment and Forests with a notification empowering localcommittees with the right to know any information regarding hazardous industries in India. A four tier crisis group at the local district, state and central levels is envisaged comprising village heads, local NGO s and social workers, newspapers , editors, doctors and local administrators who would be empowered to enter, inspect and callect industrial samples from their neighbourhood units.
6. Market-based incentives for pollution abatement:
The Union Environment Ministry has constituted a task force to suggest marked -based incentives for controlling industrial pollution. The Director of the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy and convenor of the task force Dr. P. Shome, told the press that the group would suggest fiscal incentives for pollution control.
The construction work on the Sardar Sarovar dam has been delayed further. The Supreme Court of India ruled on March 12, that there shall be no further construction of the spill-way portion of the controversial dam till the concerned states, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh iron out their differences on the issue. The submergence of the Narmada valley is decided by the spill-way portion of the dam. The order implies that there would be no construction at last till this October. Published in Science and Environment Fortnightly by Down to Earth , April 15, 1996, p 11.
HC bans felling of trees without permission
Delhi High Court today banned felling of trees without permission from the tree officer in the Capital and asked the government to specify as to why authorities were not appointed under Delhi preservation of tree Act, 1994.
A division bench comprising Mr. Justice Y.K. Sabharwal and Mr. Justice D.K. Jain in its order said, The state shall forthwith issue direction to all concerned authorities directing that no tree shall be felled in contravention of the act .
Arguing for World Wide Fund for Nature, Raj Panjawani contended before the court that though the Act was passed in 1994, the state has failed so far in appointing authorities to ensure compliance.
State counsel, Adarsh Goel, was not in a position to tell the court as to why the authorities were not yet appointed.
The matter would come to the court on April 18.(PTI). Published in The Times of India , New Delhi on April 11, 1996.
SC ultimatum to polluting units
The Supreme Court today directed 1.37 lakh polluting industries in 28 industrial areas in the Capital to immediately pay up their share of Rs 40 crore for setting up common effluent treat ment plants (CETPs) in their areas or face closure.
A bench of Justice Kuldip Singh and Justice Faizen Uddin also directed the Ridge Management Board (RMB) to clear all four slum clusters on Delhi s southern ridge so that the asola wildlife sanctuary could be started within eight months.
On a petition by lawyer M.C. Mehta, the court told RMB official V.C. Khanduri to get the JJ clusters cleared within the stipulated time. Directing the Delhi Pollution Control Board (DPCB) to issue public notice for three consecutive days to the 1.37 lakh industries within 10 days, The court said the industries should be told about the CEPT s scheme involving a cost of Rs 200 crore.
The total contribution of the polluting industries would be about Rs 40 crore which amounted to 20 per cent of the full cost, the industries should be told. Besides, these industries were liable to repay 30 per cent of the cost of the project from loans availed from the Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI).
On learning that each industrial plot in the 28 industrial areas had been unauthorisedly sub-let to eight or ten other industries, the court ordered that these industries were also liable to contribute their share in the fund or face closure.
The court also directed the Delhi environment and all authorities concerned to stop creating new industrial areas and halt the grant of fresh industrial licenses unless they were prepared to contribute funds for the setting up of CEPTs.
The new industries will also have to set up primary pollution control devices as an immediate measure to curb pollution or face closure.
Earlier counsel for Delhi government Swaraj Kaushal told the court that the state government was not happy with the interest shown by the industries towards contributing their share of the funds for the project.
He suggested that only water polluting industries in the industrial areas be asked to contribute while urging the court to give these industries another chance through public notice to respond favourably.
HC bans import of toxic wastes
The Delhi high court on Wednesday banned the import of toxic waste to India and directed the Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests and the Chairman, Central Pollution Control Board to explain the present position of the government in the matter.
The order was passed by Mr Justice Anil Dev Singh. The ban order includes all types of toxic wastes, be it for the purpose of recycling, reprocessing or dumping, until a final decision was taken.
The court asked the standing counsel for the Central government Meera Bhatia, to inform authorities about the order regarding the ban.
The judge observed that the country cannot be made a dumping ground for toxic wastes generated by other countries .
The court was hearing the petition for the non-release of lead ash imported by the petitioner, m/s Harshvardhan steel. Published in the The Times of India , New Delhi on April 11, 1996.
DNA Fingerprinting : Scientific & Legal Aspect
The public is perhaps aware of the use of DNA fingerprinting technique for resolving crime issues in several courts in our country as well as in other parts of the world. There are several Scientific issues involved with the DNA fingerprinting. It is presently considered by scientists around the world that DNA fingerprinting is the ultimate method of biological individualization. There are two aspects of DNA characterization in any organism. One part deals with genetic inheritance from ancestors; other part deals with genetic mutation due to a number of environmental parameters. It is the second point which is interesting. Genetic mutation can take place in response to changes in various aspects of environment we are living - nutrition (lack of or excess of it or some toxic component), water & air quality, work stress, etc. Medical as well as environmental scientists have been experimenting with the effect of various environmental parameters and genetic mutation. This is still a developing area of study and hence its interface with legal aspects of fingerprinting technique needs to be explored. One of the future issues of the Newsletter will address this question. For basic understanding of fingerprinting technique, the readers are advised to refer to : Krawczak,M; Schmidtke,J (1994): DNA Fingerprinting. BIOS Scientific Publishers Ltd., St. Thomas House, Becket Street, Oxford OX1 1SJ, UK, 107