The National Green Tribunal has slapped over Rs 1.17 crore penalty on 21 stone crushing and quarrying units for causing pollution and damage to the environment.
A bench comprising Justice K Ramakrishnan and expert member Saibal Dasgupta directed the violators to pay the compensation of Rs 1,17,40,800 within three months.
It warned that if the amount is not paid, then the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APPCB) is directed to take appropriate steps to realise the amount with the aid of concerned District Collector by initiating necessary proceedings in accordance with law.
The bench also asked the APPCB to make periodical inspection of these crusher units and if any violation is found or there is non-compliance of recommendations, "then the Board is directed to take appropriate action against the erring units, apart from issuing closure direction, assess environmental compensation and recover the amount from them on the basis of the guidelines provided by the Central Pollution Control Board in this regard”.
The APPCB is further directed to submit a status of recovery of compensation directed to be paid by each unit periodically once in four months and if such reports are filed, the office is directed to place them before this Bench, it said.
The tribunal's judgement came on a plea filed by farmer K Hiroji Rao regarding the operation of the stone crusher units and the pollution caused in adjoining village of Nemakal, Untekal in Bommanahal Mandal, Ananthpur District of Andhra Pradesh.
According to the plea, filed through advocate Sravan Kumar, these units are situated adjacent to each other and nearby villages as well as agricultural lands and old Anjaneya Swami Temple.
The NGT said these 21 crusher units enumerated in the report by a committee formed by it have caused damage and committed a violation and they are liable to pay compensation for the violation committed and also the damage caused to the environment on account of their operations.
The green panel also said the compensation in respect of persons affected cannot be considered in this application, as they were not before this Tribunal and there is no data available regarding the nature of damage caused to each individual.