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Delhi HC issues notice to CPCB, MEFCC, UP government over legal mandate on utilisation of fly ash for producing bricks

The petition said that fly ash, which comes from the coal power plants, must be used exclusively for the purpose of production of bricks

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The Delhi High Court has issued notice in petition seeking adherence to legal mandate pertaining to the utilisation of fly ash for production of bricks.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh on Friday sought response from the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change; Uttar Pradesh Government; Central Pollution Control Board and other bodies on the matter.

Senior Counsel for the petitioner Gopal Sankaranarayanan informed the court that the notification issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forest strictly said that fly ash, which comes from the coal power plants, must be used exclusively for the purpose of production of bricks.

He submitted that the tender floated by Noida, specifying procurement of red bricks, is impermissible and in violation of various decisions of the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court.

“Over 22 years, there has been an attempt to try and clear up Delhi’s air,” said Sankaranarayanan, while underlining consistent violations of the legal mandate by both the brick manufacturers, as well as the state instrumentalities.

The court raised query on the issue of jurisdiction, to which he responded that cause of action arose here for two reasons. Firstly, it is directly affecting the air above Delhi, and secondly, it is in violation of a Delhi High Court order directing all State Government’s to ensure fly ash for mandatory use for various purposes.

The matter will now be taken up on August 27.

The petition was filed through Advocates Avishkar Singhvi and Nipun Katyal by Vimlendu Jha, a well-known environmental activist, having espoused several causes pertaining to environmental pollution from the past about 20 years.

The petitioner mentioned the notice dated July 16, 2020 issued by the Government of Uttar Pradesh and New Okhla Industrial Development Authority, inviting e-tender to procurement of building materials, wherein it is specifically stipulated that the bricks sought to be procured are to be ‘red bricks’ and not ‘fly ash bricks’.

The plea stated that the Ministry of Environment and Forest issued a notification dated September 14, 1999, amended on January 25, 2016, which makes it mandatory to use fly ash for construction activities within specified radius of a coal or lignite-based thermal power plant.

The plea contended that the said notification was issued with a dual objective- firstly, to prevent environmental pollution through the discharge of fly-ash from coal or lignite based thermal power plant; and secondly, to restrict the excavation of top soil by the brick manufacturers.

Also Read: Supreme Court notice to AIIMS Patna on 80 per cent quota for women nurses in hospital

“The Right to Life as enshrined in Article 21 includes the life to breath and includes right to live in a clean environment, the right to unpolluted environment and preservation and protection of nature’s gifts has been conceded under Article 21 of the Constitution of India… It is most humbly submitted that by not following the considered mandate of the law the authorities are adopting the principal of regressing the environmental regime,” noted the petition.

The plea sought strict compliance of the notification dated September 14, 1999 by all instrumentalities of the state. Also, it prayed for a direction for modification or quashing of the e-tender dated July 16, 2020, to bring it in conformity with the said notification.

Furthermore, the plea prayed for a declaration of the notification dated January 25, 2016, as valid and binding on all governmental bodies within the territorial limits of India; and for framing of guidelines for the effective implementation of the said notification.

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