Sukrut Nirman Charitable Trust Vs. The State of Maharashtra & Ors.
Sukrut Nirman Charitable Trust
The State of Maharashtra & Ors.
Application No. 75(THC)/2014(WZ)
The State of Maharashtra & Ors.
Application No. 75(THC)/2014(WZ)
Judicial and Expert Members: Mr. Justice V. R. Kingaonkar, Dr. Ajay A. Deshpande
Keywords: Animal Slaughtering, Slaughter House, Precautionary Principle, Environmental Pollution, Hazardous waste, Pollution, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB)
Application partly allowed with certain directions
Dated: 24 December 2014
This Application was filed by the Applicant as P.I.L. No. 44/2012 in the High Court of Judicature at Bombay, Bench at Nagpur which was transferred to this Tribunal vide Order of the Division Bench dated 18th June 2014. The Applicant is a Charitable Trust and claimed to be working in the field of Animal Welfare Laws and alleges environmental damage caused due to the slaughter house activities. The Applicant sought to challenge illegal setting up of meat processing and cold storage units of Respondent Nos. 11 and 12.
The Applicant submitted that Respondent No.11 and Respondent No.12 obtained the consent to establish and operate the industrial units from the Respondent No.7 i.e. Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) under the provisions of Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974, Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1981 and authorization under the Hazardous Waste (Management and Handling) Rules 1989 and amended Rules 2000. The Applicant submitted that Respondent-Nos.11 and 12 were granted consent for a particular capacity of meat processing by the MPCB without proper appraisal of their Applications, manufacturing process and also, the possible pollution sources and quantification thereof. The Applicant submitted that in case of Respondent No.11, the consent to establish did not even contain anything about disposal of solid waste. The Applicant claimed similar instance of non assessment of pollution sources and quantification thereof in case of Respondent No.12.
The Applicant claimed that the MPCB had not verified from where both these units would source their raw material i.e. slaughtered animals. It was the contention of the Applicant that the Respondent Nos.11 and 12 would procure the raw material from illegal slaughtering of animals being practiced elsewhere and the industrial activities of Respondent Nos. 11 and 12 would encourage such unorganized and illegal slaughtering of animals, causing wide spread pollution and environmental damages.
The Applicant, therefore, submitted that the MPCB should have applied the ‘precautionary principle’ which has been accepted as one of the principles of environmental governance in the country by the Apex Court, in order to verify the availability of raw material from the authorized and environmentally sound slaughter houses before grant of consent to establish and even during operation of units. Applicant therefore claimed that the MPCB failed to have proper due diligence and Appraisal of the pollution caused, directly or indirectly, by the activities of Respondent Nos. 11 and 12 before granting them the consent.
The Respondent No.11 submitted that the Respondent-Industry started functioning from 13th April 2012. MPCB had issued consent to operate to the unit dated 27th March 2012 which was valid upto 31st January 2015. The Respondent further submitted that there was neither any slaughterhouse within the premises of Respondent-unit nor were any animals slaughtered in the premises of the Respondent. The Respondent claimed that they had taken necessary permissions from all the regulatory agencies and they were strictly adhering to the terms and conditions specifically laid therein.
The contesting Respondent claimed that the contention of Applicant that he is procuring the raw material i.e. slaughtered animals from the illegal sources which was resulting in pollution was without any basis and evidence. The Respondents submitted that the raw material was received by Respondent No.11 in his factory in sealed containers by refrigerated trucks and vans in very hygienic condition. With the result that no air or water pollution, what-so-ever, was caused during transportation of the meat. Similarly, the finished product was packed in the sealed container and then transported by means of refrigerated vans resulting in zero air and water pollution. The Respondent No.17, therefore, claimed that there was no pollution caused due to their industrial activities and therefore, the Respondents prayed for dismissal of the Application.
MPCB further submitted that the Respondent No.12 was given consent to establish on 23-11-1998 in Green category for cold storage unit. Subsequently, consent to establish for expansion was granted on 17-5-2008 in Green category and amended consent to operate was granted to the unit on 23-6-2008. MPCB filed another Affidavit subsequently and submitted that this consent is further amended on 29-11-2014 with de-boning capacity and by changing industry category from Green to Red. The MPCB further submitted that they had conducted inspection of both the Respondent Nos. 11 and 12-Industries on 27-9-2014 and in case of Respondent NO.11, it was observed that the industry had not provided mechanical equipments for aeration treatment. It was observed from that reports that several parameters like suspended solid BOD, COD, chlorides etc. were exceeding the limits.
The following issues needed to be resolved for final adjudication of the matter.
1) Whether the sourcing of the raw material from slaughter houses need to be appraised by the MPCB before allowing any downstream operations like meat processing, based on precautionary principle?
2) Whether the necessary environmental safeguards are prescribed for the Respondent-Industries by the MPCB through its consents?
3) Whether the industries have provided necessary pollution control system to achieve the specified norms?
4) Whether any directions are required to be given to the Authorities or industries?
Issue No.1: It was the claim of Respondent Nos.11 and 12 that they brought the raw material i.e. slaughtered animals from outside and there were no slaughtering activities carried out in the industrial premises. The main contention of the Applicant was that the operation of both Respondents would require about 1000 M.T. p.m. of slaughtered animals and such slaughtering, if not done at the authorized place, with appropriate pollution control arrangements, would cause large scale pollution. The Applicant, therefore, contended that it was the duty of the Regulating Agency i.e. MPCB to verify the sources of such raw material on the precautionary principle. At the same time, the Applicant contended that it is also the responsibility of the industry-Respondents to declare the sources of their raw material. Respondent Nos.11 and 12 negated the claim of the Applicant that they were sourcing their raw material from unauthorized sources and instead pleaded that the Applicant should support his charges/claims by substantial information.
MPCB submitted that as a part of general appraisal process, the sources of raw material was not verified by the Board. The slaughtering activity has been identified one of the major polluting activity and the Apex Court has issued several directions to control of the pollution from time to time. There was a justification in the argument of the Applicant that the MPCB should have appraised and monitored the sourcing of raw material from the slaughter house based on the precautionary principle and onus of proof on the Respondents. Therefore, issue No.1 was answered in the AFFIRMATIVE.
Issue No.2: The consents had been amended by certain addition or deletion without much emphasis on inclusion of appropriate environmental safeguards. Even when the matter was pending before the Tribunal, the consent of Respondent No.12 dated 23-6-2008 was amended from Green to Red category with an increased capacity of meat processing. It was also observed that enforcement and compliance of all these conditions is not up to the mark. The MPCB needed to review the consent conditions in respect of both these industries in a comprehensive manner to include the necessary conditions and safeguards and therefore, the issue No.2 was answered in the NEGATIVE.
Issue No.3: The Industrial operation of Respondent No.11 and 12 generate significant amount of Solid Waste which was generally in the form of bones. The MPCB made it mandatory that this solid waste needed to be disposed to the bone mills for further reuse and processing. In spite of the specific allegations, the MPCB had not come on record with the actual quantities of solid waste generated. During the final arguments the MPCB was asked about the performance of the effluent treatment plan (ETP) in view of its critical observations in its visit reports dated 27-09-2014. The MPCB had filed Affidavit on 12th November 2014 and it was observed that the analysis reports of 27-11-2013, 24-3-2014 had been annexed, which showed that certain parameters were exceeding the standards. The visit reports when read with the analysis reports indicated that all was not well with the pollution control systems at both the industries. Accordingly, the issue No.3 was answered in NEGATIVE.
Issue No.4: 20. Certain specific directions were required to be given in keeping with precautionary principle, under the provisions of sections 19 and 20 of NGT Act, 2010, for ensuring environmental compliance and sustainable development.
Accordingly, the Application was partly allowed with following directions:
1) The MPCB was to direct the Respondent Nos.11 and 12 to maintain record of sourcing of slaughtered animals along with necessary details like consent/clearance available with those slaughtered houses, based on the precautionary principle and burden of proof principle laid down by the Apex Court. These records shall be verified by MPCB during its inspections.
2) The Member Secretary of MPCB shall review the environmental performance and the consents issued to both these industries and issue appropriate time bound directions for upgradation of pollution control systems and also, issue necessary amended consents in next four weeks. All the compliances were to be made by industries in four months. In case of failure of industry to ensure substantial compliance in stipulated time, MPCB was to issue closure directions to the industry, which could not be revoked.
3) The MPCB was to visit these industries on bimonthly basis for next two years to ascertain the compliance of consent conditions. The Industries were to be directed to maintain the necessary records of the solid waste generation and disposal which would be verified by MPCB officials during their inspections.
4) The Respondent Nos.11 and 12 were to pay the costs of Rs.25000/- each to the Applicant towards the cost of the Application.