Why Not Invoke Goonda Act Against Those Who Are Polluting Water Bodies: Madras High Court
3 Dec 2020 8:38 AM GMT
SHARE THIS –
The pollution of water bodies is a pollution of the entire land: Madras High Court
Considering the seriousness of the issue, the Madras High Court (Madurai Bench) on Wednesday (02nd December)took suo-motucognisance of a news report about pollution of the Amaravathi River, and directed the District Legal Services Authority (DLSA), Karur to conduct an inspection of the River and file a report regarding the same.
The Bench of Justice N. Kirubakaran & Justice B. Pugalendhi observed,
“Most of the water bodies in India, including perennial rivers, are polluted.The pollution of water bodies is a pollution of the entire land as it affects human beings, animals, birds, plants and thereby, causing an environmental imbalance.”
The Court further remarked,
“Though India is developed industrially, no proper steps or plans have been made regarding pollution control. Though the Pollution Control Board is monitoring the pollution, there are no proper infrastructures for treating the sewage and industrial effluents.”
Though the Court took Cognizance of a news report about untreated effluents being discharged from the dyeing units and other companies (in Karur District) into the River Amaravathi, the Court noted that throughout the country, the industries are polluting the water bodies by letting in untreated industrial effluents.
The Court took notice that many water bodies are completely polluted and they have become sewage channels.
“When the water bodies are polluted, not only the water, but soil is also polluted and the water becomes unfit for drinking purpose as well as for cultivation“, noted the Court.
That apart, the Court said, because of pollution, the fishes and other living creatures in the water bodies are also killed and the water bodies become unfit to be a living place for those creatures.
Importantly, the Court opined,
“Pollution of the water bodies causes a lot of health hazards to the people and it also affects the environment as well. Therefore, serious and emergent steps have to be taken to prevent and control the pollution of water bodies.”
While noting that unless very stringent measures are taken, it is very difficult to control the pollution of water bodies, the Court opined,
“Those who are polluting the water bodies should be termed as ‘Goonda’ as per the definition in Section 2 of the Tamil Nadu Act 14 of 1982, by amending the provisions to include the Promoters, Directors, Partners and all connected with the polluting industries and should be detained under the Act 14 of 1982, in case, if there is pollution caused by the said industries/companies.”
[NOTE: The Tamil Nadu Act 14 of 1982 is‘The Tamil Nadu Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Bootleggers, Drug- offenders, Forest – offenders, Goondas, Immoral Traffic offenders, Sand offenders, Slum- grabbers and Video Pirates Act, 1982’]
Significantly, the Court noted,
“It seems that the officials are not properly inspecting as to whether the Effluent Treatment Plants, for treating the effluents discharged from the industries including dyeing units, are functioning or not and whether the treated effluents alone are discharged into the water bodies.”
Further, considering the facts and circumstances of the case, the Court suo motu impleaded:
(i) The State of Tamil Nadu, represented by its Secretary, Home Department, Secretariat, Chennai
(ii) The Secretary to Government, Industries Department, Secretariat, Chennai; and
(iii) The Secretary to Government, Law Department, Secretariat, Chennai, as respondents 6 to 8
Accordingly, the Courts raised the following queries:
(i) How many industries/companies are letting the untreated effluents into the water bodies in Karur District [with name and address]?
(ii) What is the available mechanism to verify as to whether the treated effluents or untreated effluents are discharged from the industries?
(iii) How many industries are straightaway letting the effluents into the water bodies by digging channels [necessary photographs to be filed]
(iv) What is the action taken in this regard?
(v) Whether Karur Municipality is discharging untreated sewage into the water bodies?
(vi) Why not the State Government amend the relevant provisions of the Tamil Nadu Act 14 of 1982 to include the Promoters, Directors, Partners and all connected with the polluting industries, which are polluting the water bodies by letting in untreated industrial sewage into the water bodies?
The State Government has been directed to come out with a response to the above queries in the next date of hearing. Matter has been posted for further hearing on 04.12.2020.