The National Green Tribunal has slapped a penalty of Rs 10 crore on a pharmaceutical manufacturing company in Amroha district of Uttar Pradesh for violation of environmental norms. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said it is surprising to note that a big global company like Teva API Ltd operating hazardous activity of manufacturing Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) is in operation without adequate safeguards and is unconcerned about violation of environmental norms.
The tribunal said that violation in the matter of illegal extraction of groundwater is clearly established along the pollution of the drain.
There is also violation of safety norms and mere denial is not enough, the NGT said adding that the unit has to be held liable to pay compensation for the violations to cover the cost of restoration of the environment and also to take remedial action to prevent such occurrences in future.
"Having regard to the nature of violations in the present case and the financial capacity of the unit in question, we determine the compensation amount at Rs 10 crore which amount may be deposited with the District Magistrate within one month.
"The District Magistrate may keep the amount in a separate account to be spent for restoration of the environment by preparing an action plan for augmentation of the groundwater, afforestation, landscaping, restoration of the drain and offsite emergency plans," the bench said.
The action plan for utilising the amount may be prepared within one month in consultation with the Oversight Committee constituted by this Tribunal under the Chairmanship of Justice SVS Rathore, former Judge of the Allahabad High Court at Lucknow, the tribunal said.
The Oversight Committee may also oversee utilisation of the amount for restoration of the environment in an appropriate manner.
"The utilisation may be ensured within six months. The joint Committee of CPCB, State PCB, District Magistrate may also ensure that requisite measures are adopted by the plant to avoid violation of safety norms in future," the bench said.
With regard to death of one Mohit Ranjan on account of gas leakage on December 6, 2020, the NGT directed Shalabh Mathur, DIG, Moradabad to give a factual report to the Oversight Committee with a copy to the District Magistrate and the project proponent.
"If death is found to be attributable to the activities of the unit, the unit may ensure payment of requisite compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1923 within one month, failing which the District Magistrate, Moradabad may ensure payment of compensation of atleast Rs 20 lacs to the next of the kin of the deceased, which amount may be recovered from the unit.
"If the unit is aggrieved by the report of DIG Moradabad on this aspect, it will be open to it to move this Tribunal in the matter by way of an interim application. The statutory authorities may maintain strict vigil to prevent such occurrences," the NGT said.
The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by UP resident Jitendra Singh alleging that incidents of gas leak took place on June 7 and 10, 2020, from Teva API Pvt. Ltd., Chandpur Road, Gajraula, District Amroha, Uttar Pradesh.
The plea claimed that the pharmaceutical manufacturing company was operating in violation of environmental norms and the leakage of gas affected public health.
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