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2004 (5) TMI 612

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..... ion Control Board (GPCB) thereby causing damage to the environment. Some of the industries have set up their own effluent treatment plants in their factory premises, while some of them have not. The High Court, by an order made on 17.4.1995, directed that the chemical industries in Nandesari should be made parties to the proceedings thereby 252 industrial units located in the Nandesari Industrial Estate, Baroda were made parties to the proceedings, apart from the State of Gujarat, Central Pollution Control Board, Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation and Nandesari Industries Association. The High Court also issued notices to the financial institutions or banks in respect of these proceedings. On May 5, 1995 the High Court appointed a C .....

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..... High Court in its impugned order followed a decision of the High Court of Gujarat in Pravinbhai Jashbhai Patel & Anr. Vs. State of Gujarat & Ors., 36 Guj. Law Reports1210, wherein it was noticed that the industrial units though aware of the requirements of law had not complied with the same nor did they meet the GPCB parameters and they were irresponsible in not wanting or caring to set up effluent treatment plants but continued to manufacture and pollute the environment and the concern shown now in meeting with the pollution control norms is only because of the threatened court order; that pollution caused by these industrial units was adversely affecting large number of citizens residing in the adjacent cities or villages; that in .....

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..... ration of ecology by way of punishment; that, unless a finding is given by the High Court that there had been degradation of environment, question of restitution or awarding damages could not arise; that there is no finding of degradation of environment and, therefore, it is not open to the High Court to impose 1% of the turnover by way of damages. The appellants relied upon a decision of this Court in Vellore Citizens' Welfare Forum vs. Union of India & Ors., 1996 (5) SCC 647, in support of this contention. Their argument is that principle of 'polluter to pay' cannot be applied unless a finding has been given that the industrial unit concerned is the polluter. In what manner pollution has been caused should have been ascert .....

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..... as; that the 'polluter pays principle' as interpreted by this Court means that the absolute liability for harm to the environment extends not only to compensate the victims of pollution but also the cost of restoring the environmental degradation; that remediation of the damaged environment is part of the process of sustainable development and as such the polluter is liable to pay the cost to the individual sufferers as well as the cost of reversing the damaged ecology. Shri T.R. Andhyarujina, learned Senior Advocate, who assisted this Court as Amicus Curiae with great ability, explained to us the background in which the High Court had passed the impugned order. He submitted that the High Court had followed the earlier decision in P .....

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..... f the units having no treatment plant or having inadequate facilities appeared before the High Court stating that they would voluntarily stop manufacturing till installation of proper treatment plant and were in a position to discharge trade effluent meeting with GPCB norms. Thus, in these cases, the High Court restrained firstly several industries from removing their products from their plant without prior permission of the High Court and thereafter, such units themselves suspended operation of the polluting activities. The High Court, after having considered further reports of the Committee; NEERI and GPCB permitted to restart activities on a trial basis and at the same time, directed that "with regard to 1% payment an order will be .....

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..... ds to restitution for the harm to the environment to compensate the victims of the pollution but also cost of restoring the environment by degradation. This Court reiterated the principle of "polluter to pay" to the effect that one of the principles is to levy damages of a certain percentage of total turnover and the right to a clean and hazardless environment has been recognised as a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution. The Court has innovated new methods and strategies for the purpose of securing enforcement of fundamental rights. The fact that the industrial units in question have not conformed with the standards prescribed by GPCB cannot be seriously disputed in these cases. But the question is whether that .....

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