New Delhi, Jan 6 (PTI) The National Green Tribunal Wednesday directed the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) to determine the liability of textile and chemical units for damage to the environment on account of illegal storage of chromium waste in Kanpur.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice A K Goel said that while the UPPCB failed to take action when the violation of environment norms commenced 14 years ago, there was no absolute bar on delayed action.
“Inaction by the pollution control board should not result in irreversible damage to the affected victims. Absolute liability for continuing damage to the environment and public health cannot be ignored and “Polluter Pays” principle has to be applied even if delay has been caused,' the bench said.
The chromium dump in question at Kanpur Dehat is continuing to cause damage to the environment and the public health, it said. “The persons responsible for dumping such hazardous waste, which has contaminated the ground water to the detriment of the inhabitants, cannot disown responsibility for liability for such damage on the ground of inaction of the authorities or closing of the companies,” the bench said.
Corporate veil may not be a defence to absolute liability for damage to environment, the tribunal said adding that the liability of appellants has to be limited to the violations clearly attributable to them. “The state pollution control board must determine such liability specifically, after due opportunity to the appellants, preferably within a period of three months and till this is done, further coercive measures may not be taken,” the bench said.
The tribunal was hearing a batch of appeals by some industrial units involving common issue of liability of the appellants for damage to the environment on account of illegal storage of chromium waste. Such storage of waste led to pollution of ground water adversely affecting health of large number of inhabitants. PTI PKS SA