The National Green Tribunal has directed the Delhi Jal Board to pay Rs. 5 lakh per month as the cost to the Central Pollution Control Board till compliance of its order to prevent and control bad odour from a Sewage Treatment Plant in Delhi’s Kondli area.
The Bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel held that the matter has been considered in the last two years on several occasions but we find the response of the DJB to be disappointing.
On February 23, 2021, the Court found that there was the consistent failure of the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) for which the Tribunal was inclined to award heavy costs. However, it was directed that if even by May 31, 2021 compliance was not ensured, the DJB will be liable to pay a cost of Rs. 5 lakh per month till compliance.
“In pursuance of above, action taken report has been filed by the DJB on May 31, 2021, through the Chief Engineer (SDW)S/E that DJB has commenced Ferric chloride dosing on May 17, 2021, which has reduced the emissions from 3.8 mg/l at the inlet to 0.8-1.5 mg/l at outlet thereby reducing the bad odour considerably. Additional measures taken are Primary Thickener-A, Primary Thickener-B, and Sludge Balancing Tank near residential areas. 1000 trees have also been planted to create a natural barrier to minimize the bad odour”, the order reads.
We have heard Nadkarni, Senior Counsel for the DJB who submitted that the DJB has taken necessary steps and since installing odour control system is time-consuming, other effective steps have been taken, the Tribunal said.
The applicant has submitted that inhabitants of the area are still forced to inhale hazardous gas on account of the failure of the DJB. There is no improvement. Mere spraying of chemical solution and other superficial steps are not effective in absence of installing an effective odour control unit.
“We find that though it was earlier stated that odour control systems will be installed, in terms of a report of the DJB dated January 15, 2020, no such steps have been taken. Merely dosing of Ferric Chloride, Primary Thickener-A covering and some plantation can hardly be held to be adequate steps in the matter”, the Tribunal observed.
“It is clear that the DJB has failed to perform its obligation of preventing odour at the STP and only superficial steps have been taken to claim that odour has been controlled. The problem has been persisting for a long time but pleas of the pandemic are being taken to justify inaction. Contrary to the earlier commitment of installing an effective system, now it is stated that the odour has been controlled by spray, etc. which is difficult to be expected. We note that in OA 882/2018, Jagdish vs. Govt of NCT, relating to Mayur Vihar STP, disposed of on May 28, 2019, the Tribunal noted the stand of the DJB that odour control system of the latest technology will be installed at the present STP i.e. Kondli also”, the tribunal said.
The Tribunal directed the Central Public Health Engineering Organisation (CPHEO) to bring out a manual on the subject. CPCB, in compliance with the order, filed a report before this tribunal on August 29, 2019, that a manual had already been published on the subject by the CPHEO in the year 2013 laying standards systems and technologies on odour control in the operation of the STPs.
The bench stated that, We do not understand why DJB is now shirking its responsibility and taking a contra stand that small steps taken are enough and no odour control system is required. This stand is against public interest and non-compliance of order of this Tribunal.
Accordingly, in terms of the order dated February 23, 2021, the DJB is held to be liable to pay a cost of Rs. 5 lakh per month from June 01, 2021, till compliance. The CEO, DJB will be personally responsible for compliance.
The CEO, DJB will be at liberty to take action against the erring officers in the matter. The CEO, DJB may remain present in person through video conferencing, along with the compliance status on the next date. The amount of costs be deposited with the CPCB to be utilized for the restoration of the environment, the bench ordered.
The matter is listed for further consideration on October 28, 2021.