The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Rajasthan government to pay Rs 3,000 crore as environmental compensation for improper management of solid and liquid waste.
A bench headed by chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel held the state authorities accountable for contributing to pollution and failing in their constitutional duties.
“As the timelines for preventing water pollution and solid waste management, in pursuance of Supreme Court orders and earlier orders of the tribunal, had lapsed, the ‘Polluter Pays’ principle had to be applied from the date of January 1, 2021, and the compensation had to be equal to the loss to the environment and the cost of remediation,” the bench also comprising Justice Sudhir Agarwal and expert member A Senthil Vel said.
“Continuing damage is required to be prevented in the future and past damage is to be restored,” the bench added.
The green panel determined the compensation for the gap in the treatment of liquid waste or sewage for 1250 million litres per day (MLD) as Rs 2,500 crore.
“The total compensation under the head of the failure to scientifically manage solid waste works out to Rs 555 crores,” it said.
“The total compensation is rounded off at Rs 3,000 crores which may be deposited by the State of Rajasthan in a separate ring-fenced account within two months, to be operated as per directions of the Chief Secretary and utilised for restoration measures,” the bench said.
The restoration measures concerning sewage management would include setting up sewage treatment and utilization systems, and upgrading systems or operations of existing sewage treatment facilities to ensure utilization of their full capacities, it said.
For solid waste management, the execution plan would include setting up of required waste processing plants and remediation of 161 sites along with the execution of the bio-remediation process as per Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)guidelines, the NGT said.
The bench further said that both restorations plans required to be immediately executed across the state in a time-bound manner and if violations continued, liability to pay additional compensation would be considered.
“ Compliance will be the responsibility of the Chief Secretary…,” the bench said adding, “Further, six monthly progress reports with verifiable progress may be filed by the Chief Secretary with a copy to the Registrar General of this Tribunal.”