The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has imposed a hefty fine of Rs 71 lakh on Northern Railways for air pollution. The NGT has directed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to recover this amount of penalty from the Railways.
A bench headed by NGT Chairman Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel has imposed a total fine of Rs 71.62 lakh on Northern Railway for not preventing air pollution around Shakurbasti railway station in Delhi.
There are a massive loading and unloading of cement at the Shakurbasti railway station. Due to this, there is a problem with air pollution in the surrounding areas. The NGT ordered the penalty based on the report of an expert committee.
In its report submitted to the NGT, the expert committee said that Northern Railway did not take any step to prevent air pollution during loading and unloading of cement and the health of the workers engaged in this work.
The NGT, while acting on the Central Railway Warehouse, ordered the CPCB to recover a fine of Rs 28.65 lakh.
“Northern Railways has abandoned in its duty of using necessary steps to stop air pollution harming the environment and public wellness. We find that the reports presented are based on material and need to be acted upon,” the bench said.
The committee includes Dr. Prashant Gargava, Member Secretary, CPCB, Dr. Mukesh Khare, Professor, IIT Delhi, Dr. Mukesh Sharma, Professor, IIT Kanpur, and Member Secretary of Delhi Pollution Control Committee.
The expert committee suggested that Northern Railway may be directed to stop the cement treatment operations with immediate effect and operations be continued only after the pollution control measures are performed.
“Northern Railways to ensure that the test of health workers committed by M/s Ultratech Cement be got transferred after the issue of COVID-19 pandemic is settled and report be submitted to Labor Department,” the committee said.
It also told the tribunal that no progress report was received from ACC Cement, Wonder Cement, Mangalam Cement and Ambuja Cement on fitness test of workers involved by these companies in cement handling.
The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by city denizen Anubhav Kumar claiming air pollution in and around the areas of Rani Bagh, Shakurbasti, Raja Park, Punjabi Bagh, Srinagar, Madipur near the Shakurbasti railway station on account of the unscientific way of loading and unloading of cement.
According to the petitioner, this causes severe air pollution and affects the health of the people.
“In spite of the fact that several illustrations have been made, the railway official is not doing anything in this respect,” the plea said.
The applicant had also contributed photographs to show that cement is being tracked in an open area without any cover and dust is arising from that causing serious air pollution in the region.