Himachal Court sentences company director two year jail term for environment pollution

Shimla: Getting tough on polluters, a district court in Una sentenced Bal Tejinder Singh director Extol Chemicals that operated in Mehatpur industrial area to two years imprisonment for operating a chemical plant without permission and discharging pollutants above the prescribed limits.

The case that reached finality in the civil judge Abira Basu court at Una on Monday was filed in 2003 and is perhaps the first if its kind in the states pollution control history.

“The judge while sentencing the director also imposed a Rs 5000 fine on him,” said ML Sehajpal the standing counsel for the pollution control board in the case.

Sehajpal over phone disclosed that charges of not obeying orders of the pollution control board, operating the plant without permission and discharging pollutants more than the limits stood proved in court.

The director of Extol Chemicals was booked on each of the three accounts by the court and sentenced two years imprisonment for each charge, said Sehajpal.

Member secretary Nagin Nanda confirmed conviction of the director of the polluting unit. He disclosed that the unit had been given trial permission to operate the unit but when high pollutant levels were noticed in the unit vicinity, he was asked to treat all effluents released thoroughly.

However the unit continued to defy pollution control directions.

“A case was made out against the unit management after they did not comply with norms despite repeated warnings. Once the operations were even shut down by withdrawing the electricity connection but later was restored as the owner claimed to have installed affluent treatment systems and gave an undertaking that he would abide by the law, said Nanda.

Welcoming the courts decision, environmentalist Billy Malhans, who is also convener of Himachal INTACH said, “many news reports about fishes dying in streams around Baddi keep surfacing but it is being noticed that few people are being booked for it.”

He said that though pollution control board has been trying to enforce release of treated effluents into the environment but many are not abiding by the laws, which include large cement units. And not many violators are being convicted for crimes against environment pollution, said Malhans.

For effective monitoring, Malhans sought appointing local communities as the guardians of environment protection, which needed to be backed by the pollution control authorities and violators be got booked stringently to have a deterrent in place.

As Editor, Ravinder Makhaik leads a team of media professionals at Hill Post. Spanning a career of over two decades in mass communication, as a Documentary Filmmaker, TV journalist, Print Media journalist and with Online & Social Media, he brings with him a vast experience. He lives in Shimla.

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