The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday directed the Central Pollution Control Board to recover a fine of Rs 71.62 lakh from Northern Railways noting that it has failed to stop air pollution around the Shakurbasti railway station due to loading and unloading of cement.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kunar Goel passed the order after perusing a report filed by an expert committee.
The committee told the tribunal in its report that Northern Railway has not taken proper action for implementing pollution control measures and health test of workers involved in loading and unloading of cement.
The NGT also directed CPCB to recover Rs 28.65 lakh from Central Railway Warehouse (CRWC).
"Northern Railways has failed in its duty of taking necessary steps to prevent air pollution affecting the environment and public health. We find that the reports submitted are based on material and need to be acted upon," the bench said.
The committee comprises 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 recommended that Northern Railway may be directed to stop the cement handling operations with immediate effect and operations be resumed only after the pollution control measures are implemented.
"Northern Railways to ensure that the test of health workers involved by M/s Ultratech Cement be got conducted 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 obtained from ACC Cement, Wonder Cement, Mangalam Cement and Ambuja Cement on health test of workers involved by these companies in cement handling.
The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by city resident 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 unscientific manner of loading and unloading of cement.
According to the applicant, this causes severe air pollution and affects the health of the people.
"In spite of the fact that several representations have been made, the railway official are not doing anything in this regard," the plea said.
The applicant had also produced photographs to show that cement is being stalked in open area without any cover and dust is emanating from that causing serious air pollution in the area.