At, National Green Tribunal Southern Zone Chennai
By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE K. RAMAKRISHNAN
By, JUDICIAL MEMBER & THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE SAIBAL DASGUPTA
By, EXPERT MEMBER
For the Appearing Parties: N.L. Rajah, M.R. Jothimanian, C. Kasirajan, S.M. Kothai Muthu Meenal, Advocates.
1. The applications are filed under Section 14 & 15 of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010.
2. The above applications have been filed by the individual industrial units, raising a common question of challenging the procedure that has been adopted by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) while deciding the issue regarding imposing environmental compensation as directed by this Tribunal by order dated 22.09.2020 in violations of the direction issued by this Tribunal in that order in O.A. No. 174 of 2017.
3. The common grievance of all these applicants is that, though notice was issued to appear as directed by this Tribunal for the purpose of considering the question of imposing environmental compensation fixing the date as 25.11.2020, in fact the District Environmental Engineer had convened the meeting of hearing on 24.11.2020, which was one day prior to the date fixed for appearance of the parties in the notice sent and there by the opportunity for appearance before the board for giving explanation has been lost to them. So they applied for seeking the following reliefs in all the cases.
"Set aside the order passed by the 2nd Respondent viz., The District Environmental Engineer, Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, Salem, dated 24.11.2020 in respect of imposing environmental compensation against the Applicant unit."
4. When the matter came up for hearing for admission today through Video Conference, Sri. N.L. Rajah, Senior counsel along with Sri. M.R. Jothimanian appeared for the applicants in all these cases and Sri. C. Kasirajan through Ms. S.M. Kothai Muthu Meenal represented respondents 1 and 2 in all these cases.
5. The learned senior counsel appearing for the applicant submitted that since it is not known under what provision they are going to pass the final order. They have come to the Court by filing application on the question of environmental compensation and further if this Tribunal feels, that it is a premature one, then, liberty for the applicants to challenge the final order that is going to be passed in appropriate forum in accordance with law may be left open.
6. The learned counsel appearing for the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) submitted that they have produced the copy of the minutes which will go to show that all the applicants have appeared in the meeting and they were heard.
7. The application under Section 14 & 15 of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 can be filed only by the victims of pollution and not by the industrial units. Further the relief claimed in that the application is a premature one as no final orders have been passed by the Board so far, in this issue.
8. As regards, environmental compensation is concerned, it is on the basis of the directions issued by the Principal Bench of National Green Tribunal in similar matters where the question of imposing environmental compensation and power of the regulators to impose the same was considered and the directions have been issued that the regulators will be getting power under Section 5 of the Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986 for passing such orders and directed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to evolve a policy of providing a uniform formula for the purpose of assessing environmental compensation in case where violations have been committed by the industrial units in respect of their conditions and the directions issued and it is on that basis the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) evolved a policy and directions have been issued under Section 5 of the Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986 to the State Pollution Control Boards to adopt the same and impose environmental compensation and deriving power on the basis of the directions issued by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) under Section 5 of the Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986 that the Sate Pollution Control Board are initiating actions against the alleged erring units for realisation of environmental compensation, on the basis of the nature of violations alleged to have been committed by them and apart such orders, appeal will lie under Section 5 A of the Environmental (Protection) Act and also under Section 16 of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010.
9. So under such circumstances, the applications are not maintainable and no final orders have been passed by the Board in this issue and if, the final orders are passed all questions that have been raised by the applicants in these matters can be agitated as a ground in the appeal, if they are aggrieved by the order passed by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) and at that time, the appropriate appellate forum can consider those aspects and
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pass appropriate orders. 10. So under such circumstances, the above applications are dismissed as not maintainable and also as premature leaving open the right of the applicants to approach the appropriate forum, if final orders are passed by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) agitating all the contentions that have been taken by them in these cases as we did not go in to the merits of the case. 11. With the above directions and with liberty, all the applications are dismissed. No cost.