The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed Century Pulp and Paper Ltd to pay Rs 30 lakh as compensation for failing to manage pollution caused due to effluents discharged in a local water stream from its paper mill in Nainital.
The bench also constituted a team of senior scientists to carry out a survey and study of the area and the Gola river to ascertain environmental degradation caused and also suggest remedial measures for restoration of environment.
The bench directed the team so constituted to submit its finding to the Uttarakhand government within three months. The latter is to carry out the suggested remedial measures and submit its compliance report with the NGT within the next two months. The bench also directed the firm to pay Rs 3 lakh to petitioner Gauri Maulekhi, animal activist.
In the application, Maulekhi had alleged that the firm had established a paper mill in 1984 in Nainital and had been flushing untreated toxic effluent into the local stream which had been a source of drinking water and irrigation for nearby villagers. The stream joins the Gola river which ultimately flows into Ramganga, a tributary of the Ganga.
Maulekhi told TOI, “There is direct connivance between local stone crusher units and paper company. Stone crushers have created hundreds of huge pits in Elephant Shivalik Reserve in Lalkuan region after extracting stones there. These huge pits are then filled by the mill with their waste. They have polluted not only the local streams but also the ground water. People in nearby villages have fallen prey to tuberculosis by consuming this water.”
The activist also pointed out in her petition that a team constituted by several departments and by National Pollution Control Board had found the company guilty of violating environmental norms.