RTI Judgement Series: Shielding industries causing pollution in Delhi
Despite orders from the Supreme Court, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee was just forwarding complaints about industries causing pollution to the government, without taking any action. This is the 118th in a series of important judgements given by former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi that can be used or quoted in an RTI application
The Central Information Commission (CIC), while disposing an appeal, accepted that although the information was provided to the applicant, the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) failed to take any action on his several complaints against industries causing pollution in the city.
While giving this judgement on 17 June 2009, Shailesh Gandhi, the then Central Information Commissioner, said, “The pollution control committee takes no action from complaints but forwards these to Commissioner of Industries, GNCTD, being a nodal agency, which again takes no action. The appellant was rightly complaining about the fact that the government appears to be incapable of taking action against those who violate laws and Supreme Court orders.”
New Delhi resident Bhagat Singh, on 14 November 2008, sought information regarding industries operating in Kharia Road, which is a non-conforming zone from the Public Information Officer (PIO) of Delhi Pollution Control Committee, under the Department of Environment, GNCTD.
Singh sought information that a copy of petition regarding restoration of eco-friendly environment on Kharia Road now known as Shaheed Rao Laxmi Chand Marg, submitted by the Khaira Samaj Kalyan Samiti to the ministry of environment and forest (MoEF), which was transmitted to the member secretary of Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) under their letter No.nil dated 14 December 2006.
He said, “However, inaction at the part of aforesaid pollution regulatory mechanism of the state for about last two years resulted into mushrooming of huge pollution-oriented commerciality in the area posing existential threat to society and other creatures of nature to a great extent. The aggrieved Resident Welfare Association (RWAs) of the affected residential area had petitioned to the Lt Governor of Delhi for demolition of the societal evil expeditiously with a copy of the DPCC a few days ago. Please intimate whether any action plan is at hand to deal with polluters and illegal encroachers of public utility effectively in the near future to relieve us of pollution-related lethal ailments ranging from respiratory disorder to deadly lung cancer and road fatalities.”
In his reply, the PIO stated, “With reference to your RTI application received in this office on 14 November 2008. The petition/complaint received regarding restoration of eco-friendly environment on Khaira Road through MoEF was forwarded to Commissioner of Industries on 19 January 2007, for necessary action in pursuance of order of the Supreme Court dated 7 May 2004 in the matter regarding shifting of industries form non-conforming/residential areas. The complaint was also forwarded to the Commissioner of Municipal Corp of Delhi (MCD) on 19 January 2007, for necessary action at their end.”
Not satisfied with the reply, Singh filed his first appeal. In his order, the First Appellate Authority (FAA) said, “(the) appellant had stated that no reply has been received by him till date. HP Meena stated that reply in this regard has already been sent on 2 December 2008. A copy of the same was provided to the applicant and the appellant had stated that he will write back after going through the content if required.”
Still not satisfied with the reply, Singh then approached the CIC with his second appeal.
During the hearing before Mr Gandhi, the then CIC, the PIO stated that that the appellant (Singh) has been complaining about the industries operating in that particular area which is non-conforming zone. He further stated that these are polluting industries running in a non-conforming zone and also they are encroaching on public land.
The PIO said that as per the order of the Supreme Court in writ petition (civil) no.4677 of 1985 issued on 7 May 2004....
“ In conclusion, having regard to aforesaid, we issue the following direction:
1- All Industrial Units that have come up in Residential/non-conforming areas in Delhi on or after 1 August 1990 shall close down and stop operating as per the following schedule:
a) Industrial Units pertaining to extensive industries ('F' category) within in a period of four months.
b) Industrial Units pertaining to light and service industries (category 'B' to 'F') within five months.”
After hearing the response from the PIO, the Commission, while disposing the appeal, said, “The information has been provided to the appellant but he is rightly complaining about the fact that the government appears to be incapable of taking action against those who violate laws and Supreme Court orders.”
CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2009/000993/3749
Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2009/000993
Appellant : Bhagat Singh
Respondent : HP Meena
Govt. of N.C.T. of Delhi
Delhi Pollution Control Committee
Department of Environment,
4th & 5th Floor, ISBT Building, Kashmere Gate,
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