Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding dumping of coal in huge quantities in the vicinity of residential area at Krishnashila railway siding, Bina, district Sonbhadra, Uttar Pradesh, 02/04/2023

  • 02/05/2023

Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of Suo Motu Action in Illegal Dumping of Coal at Railway Siding at Krishnashila, Sonbhadra Vs Union of India & Others dated 02/05/2023.

Grievance in the application is against violation of environmental norms by dumping of coal in 35 bighas in the vicinity of residential area at Krishnashila railway siding, Bina, Shaktinagar, district Sonbhadra, Uttar Pradesh, which is the land of the Northern Coal Field Limited. Coal has been dumped without any permission and is accumulated through illegal transportation from coal fields.

The same is resulting in damage to the water bodies, contamination of ground water and air pollution. It is causing pollution by acidic water emanating from such depots as well as due to gradual and continuous burning of coal at above mentioned depots. They discharge harmful effluents directly into the atmosphere creating serious degradation of air quality in the area.

A joint committee report dated March 22, 2023 has been filed that said that 1 million tonne dumped coal was seized by the local administration and subsequently two notices were also issued. The committee observed that a  significant quantity of coal is dumped near a railway known as Krishnashila railway siding, which is adjacent to Bina OCP of Northern Coal Field (NCL). As per Google satellite image the area of the coal stockpile is around 19 ha (in acre 46), which includes a significant water body (around 2 ha.).

Spontaneous combustion in coal stockpile has also been observed in various patches, which significantly deteriorate the local air quality, the report said.

Committee had requested the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) to conduct ambient air quality monitoring in the area in question. Analysis report depicted that "the values of PM10, is 460 Ng/m3 , which is approx.5 times more than the permissible limit of 100 Ng/m3".

Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board in its report, March 25, 2023 said that at present "1,29,236.85 MT coal is still present at the site, Google satellite image shows that the dumping of coal in Krishnashila railway siding was not observed during 2017, two small patches was noticed in 2018 onwards, which was continuously increasing up to 2020". There has been violation of environmental norms in dumping coal to the detriment of the environment and public health. Land where coal has been dumped belongs to Northern Coalfields Limited (NCL), Sonbhadra who has failed to take necessary measures to prevent air pollution.

State PCB has determined compensation of Rs. 4.43 crores against NCL applying at the rate of Rs. 30,000 per day which does not match the scientific norms for determining compensation laid down by the Supreme Court and is inadequate, the order said.

In the present case, the coal which was found stored was to the extent of about 3 lakhs tonnes out of which about 50 per cent has since been lifted and the remaining is still lying. Taking its value at the rate of Rs. 10,000 per tonnes, the value of stored material comes to Rs. 30,000 crores. The damage by such unscientific storing of coal has resulted in not only air pollution but also contamination of ground water and surface water. There is an obvious adverse impact on public health also.

Considering the cost of restoration and turnover of the transactions involved, the NGT determined, on conservative estimated cost, the compensation to be Rs. 10 crores which may be deposited by the NCL with the State PCB for restoration of environment by preparing an action plan which may include proper stocking/handling of the coal, taking measures to control dust emission and time bound remediation. Such plan has to be prepared within two months with the involvement of joint Committee of CPCB, State PCB, District Magistrate, Sonbhadra and Forest Department.

The Committee has been asked to ensure that the action points relating to controlling pollution through stocking and handling of coal should be done to bring down the air index in context of overall CEPI. If more amount is required for restoration, NCL would be liable to pay the same, the order said.