The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to revise its mechanism for setting up of new industrial units and also expansion activities in critically polluted areas.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel also warned that it will take "coercive action" against the heads of State Pollution Control Boards (SPCB) for failing to take concrete action against violators.
It said the CPCB data shows increasing air, water and soil pollution and violators of law cannot be allowed to have a free run at the cost of environment and public health.
The tribunal reiterated that "meaningful action" has to be taken by the SPCBs and a report on that should show the number of identified polluters, extent of closure of polluting activities, environmental compensation recovered, cost of restoration of the damage to the environment otherwise there will be no meaningful environmental governance.
"This may be failure of rule of law and breach of trust reposed in statutory authorities rendering their existence useless and burden on the society."
"On default, the tribunal will have no option except to proceed against the chairman and the member secretaries of the SPCBs by way of coercive action under Section 25 of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 read with Section 51 of the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC)," the bench said in a recent order.
The NGT said that "coercive" action may include replacement of persons heading such boards or direction for stopping their salaries till meaningful action is taken for compliance of order.
"Such action taken reports strictly in terms of law and order of this Tribunal referred to above may be furnished by the SPCBs on or before January 31, 2020 to the CPCB," the bench said.
It asked CPCB to prepare a tabulated analysis and file a consolidated report before this tribunal before February 15, 2020 by email.
Contending that economic development cannot take place at the cost of public health, the green court had directed the CPCB to shut down polluting industries in "critically polluted" and "severely polluted" areas within three months.
On the basis of a study jointly carried out by the CPCB and SPCBs in 2009-10, industrial clusters were notified as Polluted Industrial Areas (PIAs) and they were ranked as "critically polluted area" (CPA), ''severely polluted area'' (SPA) and "other polluted areas" (OPAs), depending upon the Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index scores.
The tribunal took note of a media report which said that the CPCB had started a process to rank 88 industrial clusters across the country based on their pollution levels.
The report said that the CPCB has recently completed the analysis of the levels based on air and water quality and hazardous waste generated by these clusters.
According to the media report, the state pollution control committees and the CPCB had conducted surveys in 2009-10 to check pollution levels in the 88 notified industrial clusters.
Thereafter, the CPCB had ranked these clusters under ''critical'' and ''serious'' categories.