Case Summary: A.P. Pollution control board v. Prof. M.V.Nayadu (Retd.)
Citation: 1994 (3) SCC 1
Drinking water is essential for all living creatures. All people, regardless of their stage of development or social and economic level, have the right to the same amount of drinking water and basic requirements, according to a United Nations resolution adopted at the 1977 Water Conference.
In India, water contamination is a big problem. Only 209 of India’s 3,119 towns and cities have partial sewage treatment facilities, and only eight have full wastewater treatment facilities, according to a survey done by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1992.
Facts of the Case:
- In this case, the respondent industry should develop a new facility in the state of Andhra Pradesh for the manufacture of vegetable oils. The respondent industry purchased a plot of land in the Peddashpur hamlet of Indore. The reservoirs that provide drinking water for the 5 million inhabitants in the surrounding area are within the village’s range.
- The Ministry of Forest and Environment created a red list of hazardous sectors in 1988. The name of the respondents’ industry was also published in the red list.
- The Central Government issued this notification using its authority under the Eater Prevention and Control of Pollution Act of 1974 and the Air Prevention and Control of Pollution Act of 1981.
- The State Government issued a statement in 1994 under the Directive Principles of Central Government, stating that the installation of any industry within 10 kilometers of reservoirs is prohibited by law.
- In 1995, he was unable to obtain a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board for the development of his industry in that location. It was approved by the state’s environmental authority. In 1996, the government reaffirmed the rule. As a result of the rule, the State of Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board denied the application.
- The respondent was told by the Commission of Industries that he needed to choose an alternate spot, but he ignored the commission’s numerous civil works and installed machines. Respondent requested a NOC from the State of Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board once more.
- The application was then turned down by the Board. Then he claimed that he had spent a significant amount of money on the establishment and running of the industry. Following that, the State Government, after considering the respondent’s plea. The respondent was then given authorization and a prescription, as well as instructions on how to deal with water pollution.
- The Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board issued a list of precautions to be taken, but the respondent’s application for a NOC was denied. Following that, respondent filed an appeal under Section 28 of the Water Act with the appellate authority.
- The state of Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board’s directives was overturned by the appellate authority, who reasoned that the respondent had utilized the most up-to-date methods to prevent pollution. Finally, the responder has the right to issue a NOC.
- Is the respondent-industry a hazardous one, and what is its pollution potentiality, taking into consideration the product’s nature, effluents, and location?
- Is the industry’s operation likely to have an impact on the sensitive catchment area, resulting in pollution of the Himayat Sagar and Osman Sagar Lakes, which provide drinking water to Hyderabad and Secunderabad?
Contentions Raised by Petitioner:
The appellant in this case was the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board, which claimed that the respondent industry could not begin civil works and construction without first receiving permission from the A.P Pollution Control Board. Furthermore, the A.P. Pollution Control Board claimed that the respondent industry’s products will result in the following sources of pollution:
- Nickel is a heavy metal that is also classified as a hazardous waste under the Hazardous Waste (Management and Handling) Rules of 1989.
- There is a risk of discharge or run-off from the factory when oil and other waste products are mixed together.
- Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions.
Contentions Raised by Respondent:
After the respondent industry’s letter for obtaining the NOC was rejected, they filed an appeal with the appellate body under Section 28 of the Water Act. In addition, the respondent filed an affidavit from Shri Santapa, a traffic officer with the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, in support of the respondent industry. In that affidavit, it was asserted that industry had followed and adapted environmentally friendly technologies while taking all necessary precautions to protect the environment.
In addition, the director of the responding industries provided an affidavit detailing the technology employed in the plant’s construction.
Another report was submitted by the respondent industry declaring that the employees were hired from the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology in Hyderabad, which is a well-known institute, and that the industry had given a certificate stating that it would not discharge any acidic influents that would be harmful to the environment. It was argued, based on the foregoing evidence and reports, that it is not polluting.
- The court overturns the appellate authority’s ruling and reviews respondent’s application for reconsideration. First and foremost, the court considers whether the Central government has the authority to exclude a single hazardous industry operating within a 10-kilometer radius of the reservoir, even if it follows all of the processes and protective measures in place to protect the environment.
- For this particular question, the court concludes that, in order to safeguard the environment, and in light of the 10 kilometers limit, the exemption should not be appropriate in nature, and no NOC may be awarded to the respondent. The Secondary Court reviewed the second question, which was whether respondent could claim exemption from the court based on the report provided to the court.
- In light of this question, the court determined that the respondent industry will not pollute the water even though it is located within a 10-kilometer radius of reservoirs since the respondent pledged to take all necessary activities and measures to protect the environment. However, the Court rejected the plaintiff’s claim of promissory estoppel for failing to take the requisite actions and measures.
- The court decided that reservoirs are significant because millions of people rely on them for drinking water, and that respondent should be protected. The court ruled those good precautions could be breached due to human error or an accident.
- In this case, the court does not want to take a chance, and you lied based on the precautionary principle. As a result, it was determined that the court could not override the government’s policy choice and hence could not give a NOC to the respondent.
In my opinion, the honorable judges’ decision is reasonable and justifiable because the court cannot employ its power in favour of a certain individual or industry. This use of power in this manner will lead to the court acting arbitrarily, which is against the public interest because the two reservoirs in question are extremely important for the area because millions of people rely on them for fresh drinking water.
If the court acts arbitrarily, it will undoubtedly affect the general public. Furthermore, it will be in violation of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees the right to clean water. As a result, when the Precautionary Principle is used, the court acts in a justifiable manner and ensures public morality.