NEW DELHI: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has slammed the Chief Secretary of the Government of Uttar Pradesh for allowing operation of brick kilns in the state during lockdown despite its prohibition. According to the NGT, this is in direct violation of its order prohibiting their operation and amounts to a criminal offence.
The Tribunal had also passed an order on November 15, 2019, against operation of brick kilns apart from the expert report that their operation is in violation of carrying capacity and results in countless violation of the law due to air and water pollution. A bench, headed by Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, Chairperson, NGT, said that such orders violate the direct orders of the NGT. It further warned the UP Chief Secretary to be careful, failing which we may have to direct prosecution, stoppage of salary and other coercive measures for violation of the order of the Tribunal. The bench further declared the order of the Chief Secretary to be void with immediate effect.
The matter caught the Tribunal’s attention when in March this year, the Ghaziabad District Magistrate told the bench that due to the coronavirus lockdown, it was unable to complete inspection of brick kilns operating within its jurisdiction. He added that several brick kilns were closed in the state as workers had moved back to their villages/hometowns due to the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown in the country. However, some kilns were still operating in compliance with the Chief Secretary’s orders.
Earlier, the NGT was hearing a bunch of pleas filed by journalist Shailesh Singh and others seeking action against brick kilns which were operating without complying to pollution norms and causing immense air and water pollution. The Tribunal had then directed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to conduct a carrying capacity study of brick kilns in NCR and other regions and its impact on ambient air quality. The plea alleged that 600 brick kilns are illegally operating in Baghpat district without obtaining necessary clearances from statutory authorities concerned.