The National Green Tribunal has imposed a Rs 4,000 crore environmental compensation on Bihar for failing to scientifically manage solid and liquid waste, in accordance with the polluter pays principle.

A bench of chairperson Justice A K Goel directed that the amount be deposited in a ring-fenced account within two months. The account will be operated only under the chief secretary's directions for waste management in the state.

The bench, also comprising Justices Sudhir Agarwal and Arun Kumar Tyagi, besides expert members Afroz Ahmad and A Senthil Vel, said, "We levy compensation of Rs 4,000 crore on the state on the polluter pays principle for its failure in scientifically managing the liquid and solid waste in violation of the mandate of law, particularly judgments of the Supreme Court and this tribunal."

The amount will be used for setting up solid waste processing facilities, remediation of legacy waste and setting up of sewage treatment plants (STPs), and faecal sludge and septage treatment plants so there remains no gap, the bench said.

The NGT noted there was a legacy waste of more than 11.74 lakh metric tonnes as well as unprocessed urban waste of 4,072 metric tonnes per day and the gap in liquid waste generation and treatment was 2,193 million litres per day.

"Better alternatives to utilize the wet waste for composting at appropriate locations be explored. The scale of expenditure for sewage treatment plants may be reviewed in the light of realistic expenses involved in decentralized/traditional systems or otherwise," the NGT bench said.

It said restoration plans need to be executed simultaneously at the earliest in all districts, cities, towns and villages in a time-bound manner without further delay with a well-laid monitoring mechanism at the state and district level.

"District Magistrates must take ownership for monitoring of sewage and solid waste management and regularly providing the report to Chief Secretary on monthly basis and overall compliance be ensured by Chief Secretary for which regular meetings be conducted," the tribunal directed.

It also directed the state's chief secretary to take further remedial measures to ensure compliance with solid waste management (SWM) rules in sync with statutory timelines.

"Similarly, the timelines for ensuring the setting up of necessary sewage management systems have to be accepted as rigid timelines in view of the judgment of the Supreme Court dated February 22, 2017," the tribunal said.

It directed the Chief Secretary to immediately set up orientation programmes on a regular basis at the appropriate institutional level to deal with environmental issues at the district level.

Further, the top officer was directed to establish a centralised single window mechanism for planning, capacity building and monitoring of waste management at the state level and district levels besides setting up state and district level monitoring mechanisms.

Other directions of the tribunal included setting up plastic waste, demolition waste and construction waste processing plants and immediate efforts for ensuring connectivity with existing STPs and proposed STPs.

"The issues relating to compliance of STPs with standards and utilization of treated sewage be monitored and looked into by centralised mechanism at the state level. Instead of high-cost STPs in small population towns/villages, oxidation ponds and other low-cost options be preferred including modular STPs," the tribunal said.

It said the state could explore utilising applicable policies for carbon credit by increasing its forest cover and effective use of treated sewage.

The tribunal directed the chief secretary to file six-monthly progress reports with verifiable progress, including details for each city, town and village pertaining to the quantity of sewage and solid waste generation, its treatment and the existing gap.

Also, a compliance report was to be filed, which had to include the progress achieved in solid and liquid sewage management for all urban local bodies and gram panchayats on an individual basis along with statistics, the tribunal said.

NGT is monitoring compliance with Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 and other environmental issues by states and union territories.

With PTI Inputs