Contending that economic development cannot take place at the cost of public health, the NGT has directed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to shut down polluting industries in “critically polluted” and “severely polluted” areas within three months.

On the basis of a study jointly carried out by the CPCB and the State pollution control boards in 2009-10, industrial clusters were notified as Polluted Industrial Areas and ranked as ‘critically polluted areas’, ‘severely polluted areas’ and ‘other polluted areas’, depending on their respective Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index scores.

A Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel directed the CPCB to assess, in coordination with the State pollution control boards, the quantum of compensation to be recovered from polluting units for the last five years, taking into account the cost of restoration and the cost of damage to public health and environment and the deterrence element. “The scale of deterrence may be related to the period and the frequency of defaults. Such other factors as may be found relevant may also be taken into account,” the Bench said.

“No further industrial activities or expansion will be allowed with regard to ‘red’ and ‘orange’ category units till the said areas are brought within the prescribed parameters, or till the carrying capacity of area is assessed and new units or expansion is found viable having regard to the carrying capacity of the area and environmental norms,” it added.

Seeking a compliance report by the CPCB after three months by e-mail, the NGT posted the matter for hearing on November 5.