Green tribunal raps PCB over Periyar pollution

Time to revamp Pollution Control Boards, says NGT

The Kerala State Pollution Control Board (PCB) has come under fire from the National Green Tribunal (NGT) for its failure to check the pollution in the Periyar caused by the illegal dumping of biomedical and other waste by hospitals and industrial units.

The Principal Bench of the NGT headed by its chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel admonished the Board for failing to carry out its statutory duties.

Infuriated by the stand taken by the Board that it could not effectively check the pollution for want of staff and other facilities, the Bench said its submission itself showed the “failure of the State PCB and effort to justify such failure on untenable arguments.”

Writ petition

The NGT pulled up the Board while considering a writ petition that was initiated on a letter written by R. Bhaskaran, a former judge of the Kerala High Court.

While hoping that the PCB will “manage its affairs remedying its unsatisfactory working,” the tribunal noted that there was “dire need for revamping of Pollution Control Boards for their effective working and steps need to be taken in the matter.”

The tribunal also noted that a “regulatory body entrusted with statutory duties cannot take a plea that it is not able to do its duty. If such plea is to be accepted, it means nobody has accountability,” it said.

The Board had submitted that the workload and manpower available with it was inadequate and it required the help of local bodies for effective implementation of the statutes. It also submitted that it was unable to conduct frequent monitoring of hospitals and other units due to the inadequacy of staff.

The NGT felt that the question “whether more staff is required or how situation is to be managed is not to be explained by the victims of pollution but by the concerned statutory authority itself.”

Committee formed

The tribunal also constituted a joint committee comprising the District Magistrate and members from the Central Pollution Control Board and State PCB to prepare an action plan for compliance of laws related to the management of biomedical waste and solid waste. The committee has also been asked to furnish an action taken report within one month to the tribunal.

The committee will also assess the damages caused to the environment and identify the persons from whom the damages have to be recovered.

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