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Pollution in U\'khand village: NGT appoints amicus curiae

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The National Green Tribunal has appointed a lawyer to assist it on a complaint of the residents of an Uttarakhand village, alleging discharge of untreated chemical effluents in drains by industries located in the vicinity.

A bench headed by Justice Raghuvendra S Rathore appointed senior advocate Raj Panjwani and advocate Meera Gopal as amicus curiae in the matter and directed that copies of all the documents should be served to them within three days.

"The counsel for State of Uttarakhand and State Industrial Development Corporation of Uttarakhand Ltd (SIDCUL) pray for time to file replies. Last opportunity is granted to the respondents to file replies by April 17, 2018 with an advance copy to the amicus curiae," the bench said.

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The villagers had contended that there was complete violation of environmental laws and pollution norms by a large number of industries at the SIDCUL industrial park, located in the vicinity of village Siddh Garbyang in the Udham Singh Nagar district.

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Terming the situation as alarming, the bench had directed its Registry to register the letter as a petition and asked the Uttarakhand state pollution control board to inspect the industrial units around the village.

The NGT had issued notices to the Uttarakhand government, District Magistrate of Udham Singh Nagar, state pollution control board, Managing Director of SIDCUL and sought their responses.

The state pollution board was directed to identify the industries which were discharging untreated effluent and causing air and ground water pollution. It had also been asked to inform the tribunal on whether the industries were complying with the conditions of environment clearance.

"The pollution control board shall also collect samples of the effluents discharged, and of ground water coming out of the tubewells. Assess the smoke coming out of the chimneys and collect samples of soil of the agriculture fields so as to ascertain whether it has also been affected by industrial effluents," the bench had said earlier.

The complainants had said the industrial units were spewing black soot which deposited black dust on the village houses, especially in the morning and evening hours due to which it was difficult for the residents to sit outside their houses or do any work.

"During rainy season, the effluent spread over the agriculture fields and even the tubewells of the village are having coloured water which is not fit for human or animal consumption," the petition had said.

Maintaining it was unclear as to which industry was causing pollution or discharging discharging effluents in the drain, the villagers had said they had complained to various authorities.

The state pollution control board officers had also visited the sites and taken samples but no action was taken, they had said.

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