Unscientific muck dumping: NGT refuses to recall order directing Afcons Infra, L&T to pay compensation
New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal has refused to recall its order directing Afcons Infrastructure Limited and Larsen & Toubro Limited to pay compensation of Rs 1 crore each for unscientific muck dumping in Arzi nallah at the Pakal Dul Hydroelectric Project in Kishtwar district of Jammu and Kashmir.
A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice A K Goel said once the applicants caused damage and violated environmental norms, they cannot escape liability.
“Subsequent clearance of waste cannot be a ground for waiving the compensation for damage already caused and violation already committed. Even though for such violation, on ‘polluter pays’ principle, deterrent compensation is liable to be paid having regard to the financial capacity of the polluter, the tribunal has adopted an extremely conservative approach of requiring compensation of Rs 1 crore each only.
“The application now filed is utterly without any merit. We are inclined to award heavy costs for such an uncalled-for application but are persuaded by learned counsel for the applicant not to do so by expressing regret,” the bench said.
The contention raised in the application for recall is that illegal dumping of muck by the applicants was on account of the project proponent — M/s Chenab Valley Power Projects (P) Ltd. (CVPPL) — not providing a suitable place.
The plea also submitted that the muck has now been removed.
The NGT was hearing pleas filed by Afcons Infrastructure Limited and Larsen & Toubro Limited seeking recall of the order, dated February 17, 2022, requiring the applicants to pay compensation of Rs 1 crore each for restoration of the environment on ‘polluter pays’ principle.
The tribunal had imposed the compensation after verification by a committee headed by a former judge of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court and comprising statutory regulators that the applicant had illegally dumped muck on the bank of the drain obstructing its natural course.