The NGT stated that despite a sewage generation capacity of 2,758 million litres per day in metropolitan areas only 1268 MLD is claimed to be treated, leaving a massive 1490 MLD deficit.
Digital Desk: The West Bengal government has been fined Rs 3,500 crore by the National Green Tribunal for a large disparity in solid and liquid waste generation and treatment.
The green panel stated that the state government does not appear to prioritize the establishment of sewage and solid waste management facilities, even though the state budget for 2022-2023 includes a provision of Rs 12,818.99 crore for Urban Development and Municipal Affairs.
Observing that health issues cannot be postponed indefinitely, a bench led by NGT Chairperson Justice A K Goel said that it is the constitutional responsibility of the state and municipal governments to maintain a pollution-free environment.
The NGT reported that, despite a sewage generation capacity of 2,758 million litres per day in metropolitan areas and a treatment capacity of 1505.85 MLD (by establishing 44 STPs), only 1268 MLD is claimed to be treated, leaving a 1490 MLD deficit.
While there is no objection to the use of any central funds, the state cannot evade accountability or delay discharge on that basis, it stated.
"Considering the damage to the receiving environment, we believe that, in addition to ensuring compliance as soon as possible, the state must pay compensation for prior violations."
The total amount of compensation under the two headings (solid and liquid waste) is estimated at Rs. 3,500 crores, which the state of West Bengal may deposit in a separate ring-fenced account within two months, the court concluded.
It further warned that if infractions persist, the obligation to pay further compensation could need to be taken into account.
The panel ruled that it is crucial to separate solid waste at the source and to handle it as soon as possible after it is generated, with a clear destination in mind.
Compliance with environmental regulations regarding waste management must be a top focus. The Tribunal has observed instances of grave disregard and ongoing environmental harm in the lack of suitable procedures for the handling of solid and liquid waste.
We believe that the judiciary has been keeping track of matters for a considerable amount of time. The state needs to recognize its responsibility to the law and the people and embrace greater self-monitoring, the bench said.
The instructions were given as states and union territories were being monitored for conformity with the Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016, and other environmental issues.