The Principal Bench of the National Green Tribunal has imposed an environment compensation of ₹100 crore on Kochi Corporation for its continuing neglect of duties, resulting in the crisis at its dump site in Brahmapuram following the major fire on March 2.
The Bench led by chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel issued an order directing the civic body to deposit the money with the Chief Secretary within a month for necessary remediation measures and to address the health issues faced by people who had inhaled the toxic fumes from the dump site.
Apart from above, we direct the Chief Secretary, Kerala to fix accountability of the officers concerned for such gross failures and initiate action under criminal law as well as by way of departmental proceedings, following due process and place the same in public domain within two months, it said.
The Bench issued the orders after it took suo motu notice of The Hindu report titled “Kochi chokes as fire at waste dump still rages; govt. asks people to stay indoors” published on March 6.
In a scathing order, the Bench said that the State of Kerala and its authorities have been utter failure and have rampantly violated the statutory solid waste management rules and orders of the Supreme Court in Writ Petition No. 888/1996, Almitra H. Patel vs. Union of India & Ors. and various orders of the tribunal since December 2016.
No accountability for such serious failure has been fixed and no senior person has been held accountable so far. Except for giving future plans, no fixing of accountability is proposed even now which is matter of regret. No prosecution has been launched against the guilty for criminal offences under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 and also under relevant provisions of IPC nor action taken for violation of orders of the Supreme Court and repeated orders of this Tribunal in proceedings transferred to the Tribunal by the Supreme Court. Such attitude of State authorities is threat to rule of law. We hope the situation is remedied at the higher level in the State, it said.
The Bench asked the State Police Chief and the Chief Secretary to uphold the Constitution and the mandate of environmental law.
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