The National Green Tribunal has restored the KSPCB’s 2012 closure order on Graphite India. With this, the 20-year-old legal battle of Whitefield residents, against the polluting Graphite India Limited along the Whitefield Road, has borne fruit.
In the hearing on Thursday before the principal bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) comprising Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, Chairperson, Justice S P Wangdi, Judicial member, Justice K Ramakrishnan, Judicial member, Nagin Nanda, Expert member, the 2012 closure order by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) was restored.
The NGT has further issued directions to constitute a joint committee comprising representatives of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the KSPCB and the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) to carry out stack monitoring and ambient air monitoring of the factory, and the surrounding area by installing monitoring stations in 10 different locations. The NGT has also ordered to carry out a study on source apportionment of the pollution sources.
The entire study is to be conducted within two months, with the KSPCB as the nodal agency. The report on the same should be submitted to the NGT thereafter. The NGT order comes after the apex Court had fixed a penalty of Rs 50 lakh on Graphite India on October 30 2018, as per the ‘polluters pay’ principle.
“Residents around the Graphite India factory are super elated to hear that the NGT has quashed the Karnataka State Appellate Authority order of 2012, which allowed Graphite India to continue operation of the factory. The NGT has restored KSPCB’s closure order of 2012. KSPCB should now move forward to implement the order,” said Zibi Jamal of Whitefield Rising.
“Whitefield Rising taking up the cause in the middle of 2018 gave us much needed support. The case in the Supreme Court and recognition of Graphite India as a polluter under the ‘polluters pay’ principle gave much strength to the cause,” said Nivedita Gouda, a Whitefield resident.
“It all started with a bunch of mothers who were worried about their children and elders inhaling the polluted air back in 2009. Our persistent complaints to the KSPCB and banding together with other residents who raised similar complaints led to the KSPCB finally issuing the closure order in 2012. Our hopes took a dent when the Appellate Authority overturned the closure order, granted Graphite India the stay and allowed them to operate. But we collected evidence, along with research papers on the effects of graphite pollution and built our case before the NGT and appealed to the court to uphold the closure,” added Gouda.