‘High Time For MSMEs Causing Pollution To Comply With Environmental Norms Before Govt Shut Them’ -
The Delhi Government had exempted the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) from seeking environmental clearances and consents.
It had resulted in both applause and criticism alike. It was appreciated as many thought that this would make it easier for the MSMEs to conduct business but many were upset as it would have had a negative impact on the environment.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the state pollution control boards (SPCB) and the pollution control committees (PCC) to initiate strict action against the polluting industrial clusters across the country. The NGT had clearly mentioned in its order dated July 10, 2019, as well that asking the authorities to prepare an action plan does not obviate the requirement for enforcement of the law. The MSMEs have to also realize that if they wish to continue their operations profitably, they have no option but to be compliant with all the applicable laws especially the environmental laws. The NGT had ordered earlier as well that the violators and polluters should be punished, measures would have to be taken for the polluting activities to be stopped and compensation for the damage already caused would have to be recovered along with the cost of restoration as per the law. The NGT has in the past passed orders related to pollution control in industries in Taloja industrial area in Maharashtra; Tronica city in Loni, Ghaziabad and Jajmau, Banthar and Unnao in Uttar Pradesh.
While this particular judgment of the Hon’ble NGT deals with the polluted industrial clusters and calls for strict action, the NGT has also held earlier in its order dated July 10, 2019 that ‘no further industrial activities or expansion be allowed with regard to the ‘red’ and ‘orange’ category units till the said areas are brought within the prescribed parameters or till the carrying capacity of the area is assessed and new units or expansion is found viable having regard to the carrying capacity of the area and environmental norms’. This means that the industries and enterprises which fall in the red or orange category and are located in these industrial clusters will have to be shut down if found to be non-compliant with the norms. This NGT judgment, therefore, will ensure that only such industries are allowed to operate, be it in the industrial clusters or elsewhere, which are in complete compliance with the applicable environmental regulations. The MSMEs, therefore, have no option but to comply with the environmental norms and carry their business with the relevant environmental clearances and consents.