NGT fines Karnataka Rs 2,900 crore for lapses in waste management | India News

BENGALURU: Coming down heavily on the Karnataka government for failing to check environmental pollution by ensuring effective solid waste and sewage management systems, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) ordered it to pay Rs 2,900 crore as compensation.
The NGT principal bench in New Delhi has been, for eight years, supervising compliance with earlier directions issued by the Supreme Court regarding the handling of solid waste and sewage management. In its order on Thursday, the tribunal noted that the steps taken by the Karnataka government in handling solid and liquid waste have been “inadequate”, which caused heavy damage to the environment and public health.
Assessing the extent of damage and estimating compensation on the ‘Polluter Pays’ principle for restoration of the environment, NGT initially estimated compensation payable at Rs 3,400 crore. But NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel ordered a deduction of Rs 500 crore levied on Monday for damage to the Chandapura Lake in Electronics City, Bengaluru.
The NGT directed the state to deposit Rs 2,900 crore in a separate ring-fenced account within two months. The amount may be utilised to restore the environment in the next six months. The chief secretary is responsible to ensure compliance.
Resuming the hearing on Karnataka’s compliance with SC directions, based on the affidavit filed by the chief secretary, the NGT said, “It is seen from the data presented by the chief secretary in the present matter, there is no substantial progress. There still exist huge gaps in the management of solid and liquid waste even after eight years of monitoring by this tribunal, after the order of the Supreme Court on 2 September, 2014, in Almitra Patel, supra (Solid Waste Petition) and more than five years after the order of the Supreme Court dated 22 February, 2017, in Paryavaran Suraksha (Liquid Waste Petition).”
Referring to data furnished by the government, NGT pointed out that Karnataka was only processing 9,153 tonnes of solid waste out of 15,334 tonnes generated daily. There was a gap of 6,181 tonnes per day, which the state admitted was being directly sent to landfills. Similarly, the state was processing only 1,929 million litres of the 3,356 million litres of sewage generated per day, leaving a gap of 1,427 million litres.
The state estimated the quantity of legacy waste (accumulating for several years) at 179.9 lakh tonnes spread over 196 landfill sites in various cities and towns with over 1 lakh population. With reference to legacy waste, the Karnataka government admitted: “A total of 1.38 lakh tonnes of waste has been remediated and another 178.5 lakh tonnes still needs to be remediated.”
The NGT stated: “The dumpsites in operation, as well as legacy waste dump sites, occupy a huge area of valuable public lands, resulting in air, water and land pollution and causing damage to the environment and public health. They emit intolerable smell and cause hazardous and unsafe environment for inhabitants in the vicinity.”

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