UPPCB recommends Rs 90 lakh penalty against NHAI for not taking steps for dust abatement for Delhi-Meerut Expressway

Ghaziabad: The Uttar Pradesh pollution control board (UPPCB) has recommended a fine of over ₹90 lakh against the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) for allegedly violating standard operating procedures for dust abatement at construction sites. Officials of the pollution board said the penalty was recommended in connection with the Delhi-Meerut Expressway (DME) project, currently being undertaken by the NHAI.

Officials said the under-construction DME has been a major pollution source. The DME passes through Ghaziabad and Noida as well as Hapur district. Presently, the NHAI is taking up construction of phase 2 (UP-Gate to Dasna), and phase 4 (Dasna to Meerut) stretches of the DME. The other two phases – 1 and 3 – are operational.

“The recommendation of the environmental compensation to the tune of ₹90,23,437.50 against NHAI was made for not adopting necessary measures for dust abatement, as notified by the Ministry of Environment Forests & Climate Change (MoEF&CC) in January, 2018. The fine has been calculated based on guidelines issued by the central pollution control board (CPCB) for imposing penalties against defaulters,” said Utsav Sharma, regional manager UPPCB.

The UPPCB said it has been maintaining a strong vigil to identify pollution sources which contribute to Particulate Matter (PM) variants 10 and 2.5. The Ghaziabad administration has formed teams, including night vigil teams, to track pollution sources in the district ahead of the winter season.

“Presently, the air quality index (AQI) of the region is in the “poor” category, along with the unfavourable meteorological conditions, and things are not expected to improve anytime soon. The NHAI was penalised last year as well to the tune of ₹2.5 lakh. The district magistrate and the UPPCB have issued directions that necessary protocols regarding construction have to be followed at the site. However, currently, none of the measures apart from sporadic water sprinkling are being followed at project site,” Sharma, added.

Officials of the NHAI, on the other hand, said they are following laid down steps for controlling pollution at their project sites.

“We will take appropriate steps once we receive the notice,” said RP Singh, project director (NHAI).

Furthermore, UPPCB also imposed fine of about ₹50 lakh on two industrial units for allegedly burning plastic in boilers. A fine of ₹26.25 lakh was recommended against a unit at Hapur Road while penalty of ₹24.75 lakh was recommended against a unit at Modinagar Road.

Officials added both units are engaged in processing waste paper and were allegedly found burning plastic along with approved fuel in their boilers for generating steam, during an inspection carried out October 9.

Recently, Bhure Lal, chairperson of the Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority had visited Ghaziabad and directed officials to crackdown on industrial units using non-designated fuels.

BOX: January 2018 Notification by Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change

No building or infrastructure project requiring Environmental Clearance shall be implemented without approved Environmental Management Plan, inclusive of dust mitigation measures

Roads leading to or at construction sites must be paved and blacktopped (that is, metallic roads)

No excavation of soil shall be carried out without adequate dust mitigation measures in place

No loose soil or sand or Construction & Demolition Waste or any other construction material that causes dust shall be left uncovered

Wind-breaker of appropriate height, that is, 1/3rd of the building height and maximum up to 10 metres shall be provided

Water sprinkling system shall be put in place

Dust mitigation measures shall be displayed prominently at the construction site for easy public viewing

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