The “environmental Emergency” caused by one of the worst stretches of air pollution in Delhi and the northern region led National Green Tribunal to take the Centre and some states to task for inaction, as the year also it cracking the whip on airlines for dumping excreta in air and auto majors over sale of diesel vehicles.
Though several path-breaking orders were passed by the NGT in 2016, it also stoked controversy by allowing Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living (AOL) to hold a three-day cultural extravaganza on the dry bed of eco-fragile Yamuna.
Like previous years, hearings and orders of the green panel found mention in the global media and one such issue was the dumping of human excreta by aircraft over residential areas near the IGI airport here, which led it to order an inspection of the South Delhi house of a former senior armyman who had drawn its attention.
The menace of human waste being splattered on houses from airplanes while landing, also led the tribunal to slap a fine of Rs 50,000 on aircraft which empty toilet tanks in air.
The year not only saw slapping of hefty fines and environment compensation on public authorities for failing to discharge their “statutory” obligations, but big corporate houses too were penalised for damaging ecology.
The order imposing Rs 100 crore damage on a Panama-based shipping firm and two of its Qatar-based sister concerns for causing an oil spill in South Mumbai coast on August 4, 2011, was noteworthy.
While asking the three companies to pay environmental compensation to the Ministry of Shipping, the NGT also ordered Gujarat-based Adani Enterprises Ltd to pay Rs 5 crore as environmental compensation for dumping in the seabed 60,054 MT coal, being carried by ship M V RAK, and polluting the marine environment.
While NGT was training its guns on violators, on October 3, its website was hacked and it took almost two months to be restored.
The panel drew government’s attention to approve and implement action plans to tackle “environment Emergency” in Delhi and neighbouring areas and ordering deregistration of 10-year-old diesel vehicles.
It also barred the government from spending on cleaning of Ganga after it failed to provide data.