Home / News / India /  NGT refrains from imposing 1,138 cr fine on Odisha citing state govt's undertaking to create waste management fund

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has decided to temporarily hold off on imposing a fine of 1,138 crore on the Odisha government for inadequate management of solid and liquid waste. The state government had submitted an undertaking to the NGT, promising that 1,152 crore would soon be credited to a separate, ring-fenced account specifically dedicated to the management of solid and liquid waste.

In light of this commitment, the NGT deemed it appropriate to give the state government a chance to rectify its shortcomings in waste management before taking any further action.

A court bench led by Justice AK Goel stated that, in addition to the 37 lakh metric tonnes of legacy waste, there was a deficit in sewage generation and treatment of 514 million litres per day (MLD).

The bench, which was made up of expert members A Senthil Vel and Afroz Ahmad as well as judicial member Justice Arun Kumar Tyagi, declared that it was the state government's responsibility and absolute liability to have a thorough strategy with a deadline and resources allocated to prevent pollution.

"Long future dates, breach of which has taken place frequently in the past without accountability, is not a convincing solution. It is a poor substitute for compliance...," the bench said.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) emphasized that it is the mindset and determination to act on a mission mode that can produce results. The NGT is hopeful that the interaction with the chief secretary of Odisha will lead to further measures in the matter, using an innovative approach and stringent monitoring. The goal is to bridge the 37 lakh tones of legacy waste and 514 million litres per day liquid waste generation and treatment as soon as possible, by shortening the proposed timelines and adopting alternative or interim measures wherever possible.

The NGT also stated that it will be open to the state to plan to raise the requisite funds from generators or contributors of waste or by any other legal means. This will help to ensure that the necessary steps are taken to properly and efficiently manage solid and liquid waste, which is crucial for protecting the environment. The NGT will closely monitor the situation and take appropriate action as necessary.

It will also be open to the state to plan to raise the requisite funds from generators or contributors of waste or by any other legal means, it added.

"In normal circumstances, the state would be liable to pay a compensation of about 1,138 crore at the scale of compensation fixed in other states. However, it is stated that in Odisha, a higher amount stands allocated and 1,152 crore will soon be credited to a separate ring-fenced account for the purpose," the tribunal said.

The green panel noted the state government's initiative and stated, "For the time being, we hold off on imposing environmental compensation on the state of Odisha. It is possible to maintain the ring-fenced account as a "non-lapsable" fund."

It instructed the state's chief secretary to submit six-monthly progress reports.

The NGT is keeping an eye on how well the states and union territories are following the Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016, as well as other environmental regulations.

(With inputs from PTI)

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