Editorial: A Minimalist is a Green Hero

Sanjaya K. Mishra

Editorial Published on 27th November 2019

According to a recent statement laid in the Lok Sabha, during the period 01.04.2014 to 31.03.2019, as much as 69141.32 hectares of forest land was diverted in 3616 cases under Forest Conservation Act, 1980. And, a maximum of 21057.08 hectares of forest land was diverted for mining purposes, followed by 16450.71 hectares for irrigation and 8733.81 hectares for roads. This data has a huge significance in terms of natural resources, and environment of the nation. Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the Earth. Ores recovered by mining include metals, coal, oil shale, gemstones, limestone, gravel, and clay, etc. Mining has a significant impact on the environment, much more than the degradation of forest land. And, further industrial processing of mineral ores has another set of environmental impact.
According to the Ministry of Coal, the all India Production of coal during 2018-19 stood at nearly 730.35 million tonnes (MT). In FY19, India produced 131.57 million tonnes (MT) and 106.56 MT of gross finished steel and crude steel, respectively. And, our target is to produce 300 million tonnes of steel by 2030-31. With 460 million tonnes per year (mtpa) of cement production capacity as of 2018, India is the second-largest cement producer in the world and accounts for over 8 percent of the global installed capacity, as of 2018. The cement production capacity is estimated to touch 550 MT by 2020. In addition to road infrastructure, housing for all needs more cement, building materials like sand, aggregates, etc. The demand for sand resources is rising. Shifting consumption patterns, growing populations, increasing urbanization and infrastructure development have increased multifold demand over the last couple of decades. The global requirement of sand now is above 50 billion tonnes per year, an average of 18 kg per person per day. With further growing demand the quantum of an environmental impact could be envisaged from these data.
The undeniable truth is development needs resources. There is a need to ensure sustainable growth. This could be attained through sustainable resource management, which means both (a) ensuring that consumption does not exceed levels of sustainable supply and (b) ensuring that the earth‘s systems are able to perform their natural functions to ensure the long-term material basis of societies in a way that resource extraction, use, and waste and emissions management do not surpass key thresholds for long-term environmental sustainability and human wellbeing. Sustainable supply refers to the number of resources that can be extracted and used for production and consumption before the threshold of a safe operating space is surpassed. At a global scale, (sustainable) levels of production equal (sustainable) levels of consumption. At a local scale, sustainable supply is aimed at by safe operating practices.
Researching viable options for resource conservation is the crying need of the time.
Some countries already have high aggregate recycling rates because of virgin aggregates costs, e.g. Germany recycles 87% of its waste aggregates. in India, there are cases of used non-toxic municipal waste as a replacement for aggregates in road-building, as well as the use of waste foundry sand used (Siddique et al. 2004, 2015), waste rubber (Gupta et al., 2014), waste tiles (Singha & Singla, 2014) to produce concrete. There is a need to promote more such works.
The Ministry of Steel is proactively working towards the reuse of different types of slags generated from steel plants. Construction and Demolition wastes could play a vital role in supplying the raw materials for housing and road construction projects. Every action at this stage needs to be supported with the lowest carbon footprints. To sum up, the Gandhian principle is the best way to attain green growth. In the contemporary world, a minimalist is a green hero, the real hero.

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“100% Sewage Treatment may be ensured by 31st March 2020”: NGT

NMCG will be the nodal agency for compliance

A copy of the NGT order dated 6th December 2019 is also available with this article. 

7th December 2019, Delhi: The National Green Tribunal in its order published on 6th December 2019 with regard to Original Application No. 673/2018 on the issue Remedial action for 351 polluted river stretches in India has reiterated its order dated 28.08.2019 in O.A. No. 593/2017 “100% treatment of sewage may be ensured as directed by 31.03.2020” at least to the extent of in-situ remediation and before the said date, commencement of setting up of STPs and the work of connecting all the drains and other sources of generation of sewage to the STPs must be ensured. If this is not done, the local bodies and the concerned departments of the States/UTs will be liable to pay compensation as already directed vide order dated 22.08.2019 in the case of river Ganga i.e. Rs. 5 lakhs per month per drain, for default in in-situ remediation and Rs. 5 lakhs per STP for default in the commencement of setting up of the STP.

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It is noteworthy that according to the latest assessment by the CPCB, there are 351 polluted river stretches in India i.e. where the Bio-chemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) content is more than 3 mg/L. As per laid down standards, river water is considered to be fit for bathing when it meets the criteria of having BOD less than 3.0 mg/L, Dissolved Oxygen more than 5.0 mg/L and Faecal Coliform bacteria to be less than 500 MPN/100 ml.

The Tribunal has also directed that “Timeline for completing all steps of action plans including completion of setting up STPs and their commissioning till 31.03.2021 in terms of order dated 08.04.2019 in the present case will remain as already directed. In default, compensation will be liable to be paid at the scale laid down in the order of this Tribunal dated 22.08.2019 in the case of river Ganga i.e. Rs. 10 lakhs per month per STP.”

It has further directed that an institutional mechanism be evolved for ensuring compliance of the above directions. For this purpose, monitoring may be done by the Chief Secretaries of all the States/UTs at State level and at the National level by the Secretary, Ministry of Jal Shakti with the assistance of NMCG and CPCB. For the purpose, a meeting at the central level must be held with the Chief Secretaries of all the States/UTs at least once in a month (option of video conferencing facility is open) to take stock of the progress and to plan further action. NMCG will be the nodal agency for compliance who may take the assistance of CPCB and may give its quarterly report to this Tribunal commencing 01.04.2020.

NGT direction also states that the Chief Secretaries may set up an appropriate monitoring mechanism at State level specifying accountability of nodal authorities not below the Secretary level and ensuring appropriate adverse entries in the ACRs of erring officers. Monitoring at the State level must take place on a fortnightly basis and record of progress maintained. The Chief Secretaries may have an accountable person attached to his office for this purpose. A monthly progress report may be furnished by the States/UTs to Secretary, Ministry of Jal Shakti with a copy to CPCB. Any default must be visited with serious consequences at every level, including initiation of a prosecution, disciplinary action and entries in ACRs of the erring officers.

The NGT has also directed to shorten the procedures for DPRs/tender process and if found viable business model developed at the central/state level. Wherever work is awarded to any contractor, a performance guarantee must be taken in the above terms.

The action plan prepared by the Delhi Government which is to be approved by the CPCB has to follow the action points delineated in the order of this Tribunal dated 11.09.2019 in O.A. No. 06/2012.

The NGT has also directed CPCB to conduct a survey with respect to parameters such as pH, BOD, COD, DO and Faecal Coliform and other recalcitrant toxic pollutants having a tendency of bio-magnification. The survey may be conducted by involving the SPCB/PCCs within three months. 20191206 NGT Order on River Pollution

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