Chandigarh administration, MC fined Rs 12 crore for repeated environmental violations in two years

The Chandigarh Pollution Control Committee (CPCC) has levied fines of Rs 9.3 crore and Rs 2.7 crore on the Chandigarh civic body and administration, respectively, for consistently flouting environmental norms from 2020 to 2022.

Details obtained by The Indian Express reveal that the civic body made 93 violations, while the administration breaches the environmental norms 48 times.

Among these violations, the civic body was found non-compliant 56 times in 2021 and 2022 alone, specifically related to four of its sewage treatment plants (STPs). The STPs located in Raipur Kalan-I, Raipur Khurd, Dhanas, and 3BRD were repeatedly found not adhering to the required norms during this period.

The committee imposed an environmental compensation amounting to Rs 5.60 crore (Rs 10 lakh per month per STP) between April 1, 2021, and September 2022, on the basis of Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) levels, to address the non-compliance issues of these four STPs.

The penalties were enforced following a show-cause notice issued on August 22, 2022, and subsequent reminders, which did not yield satisfactory responses from the civic body.

Reacting on the heavy fine, Chandigarh Municipal Corporation Commissioner Anindita Mitra said that they are upgrading and constructing the STPs anew to make compliance. “Out of the six STPs with MC, three have been upgraded, with two completed in August and one in September.”

Fined for discharging waste at Sukhna Choe

The UT administration’s Estate Office and engineering department have been penalised 2.7 crore for not following environmental rules on several occasions between 2020 and 2022.

Out of the 48 times they faced penalties, the Chandigarh administration was caught not complying with discharge standards near the Sukhna Choe 30 times during the mentioned period. The Estate Office was penalised Rs 1.50 crore because untreated waste water from Dhaka colony, Raipur Khurd, was flowing into Sukhna Choe and then mixing with the river Ghaggar. The colony was found to be illegal and didn’t have a proper sewerage system, leading to waste water being released into the storm water drainage system.

As a result, the Chandigarh Pollution Control Committee took action against the Estate Office 30 times – 9 times in 2020, 12 times in 2021, and 9 times in 2022. They were charged an environmental compensation of Rs 5 lakh per month per drain for not taking steps to fix the issue.

Additionally, the Chief Engineer of the UT Administration was fined Rs 60 lakh for not complying with norms 12 times from 2020 to 2022. The issue arose because untreated water from N-choe was reaching the river Ghaggar due to the administration’s failure to carry out necessary remediation of drains.

The UT faced six more violations for not adhering to norms for a STP in Raipur Kalan II, which they were responsible for maintaining. This resulted in an additional environmental compensation of Rs 60 lakh being imposed on them.

Notices galore

Starting on August 22, 2022, the CPCC issued show-cause notices to the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation and the engineering department, questioning why environmental compensation should not be imposed for their non-compliance with the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) directions concerning drains and STPs.

Just a few days later, on September 6, the CPCC issued another show-cause notice to the Municipal Corporation for not adhering to NGT’s directions regarding solid waste management.

The CPCC didn’t let up, sending further reminders to the civic body and engineering department on September 28, September 19, and November 2, urging them to comply with NGT’s directives.

Finally, on November 9, 2022, the CPCC took action and imposed environmental compensation on both the civic body and administration.

Two drains – the Sukhna Choe and N-Choe – were discharging waste water into the Ghaggar River and NGT had passed directions regarding the same. Initially, 14 points were identified where waste water and sewage were mixing into N-Choe. Authorities took action to address the issue, stating that 13 of the 14 points had been resolved, resulting in a reduction of Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) levels, which indicate water pollution. Similarly, 12 out of 13 problematic points were resolved in the case of Sukhna Choe. The high BOD levels in the effluent discharged from STPs into the Ghaggar River’s tributaries had raised concerns about the river’s pollution.

The commissioner said that all choes except Faidan have been plugged. “However, it (fixing the choes) is a continuous process as people break the plug in and then MC has to re-plug,” she added.

When quizzed of waste water in the choes, an official stated that the choes need to be deepened because when the they are full, backflow of water takes place that cause flooding and that too of dirty water.
The UT administration had not done any in-situ remediation in any of the drains because of which untreated waste wate was reaching the river Ghaggar and other water resources, CPCC claimed.

Meanwhile, Punjab Engineering College Director Baldev Setia, who is also a water resource engineer said that the drainage system is like a “full circle”. “All including the storm water, waste water, and water management form a circle and every aspect has to be seen,” Setia added.

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