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Six pollution-hit villages in Gujarat to get Rs 25 lakh compensation after SC order

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AHMEDABAD, May 15: Six villages in Gujarat’s Rajkot district that were affected by pollution due to a landfill will collectively get Rs 25 lakh compensation following a recent order of the Supreme Court, an NGO said on Wednesday.

The company responsible for the pollution had been directed by the top court to deposit the money as per a 2013 order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT). The NGO, Paryavaran Mitra, said they will now follow up with the authorities to get the amount released.

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As per the case details, the Rajkot Municipal Corporation had signed an agreement with Hanjer Biotech Energies Private Limited (HBEPL) in 2003 to set up and run a solid waste disposal site at Nakrawadi village near Rajkot city.

However, due to improper handling of solid waste and dispersion of untreated garbage in nearby areas, people from six villages in the vicinity faced health issues and other problems like groundwater contamination and degradation of farmland, said NGO director Mahesh Pandya.

About 7,500 people live in these villages – Nakrawadi, Pialiya, Nagalpar, Hadmatiya, Khijadiya and Rajgadh.

“We had filed a petition with the NGT, which found merit in our case. Through an order in December 2013, the NGT had asked the company to deposit Rs 25 lakh with the collector for disbursement as compensation to these five village panchayats,” said Pandya.

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While the company challenged the NGT order in the Supreme Court, which directed it to first deposit Rs 25 lakh with the collector, it became bankrupt during the pendency of the appeal, he said.

“We are of the opinion that during the rainy season the air and water pollution is caused on account of water slippage from the landfill site because of untreated solid waste which flows along with rainy water from the slope of a small hillock towards the village side,” the NGT had said in its order 2013 order.

“We also find that HBEPL failed to take proper precaution for maintenance of landfill site,” the green court had added.

In its order dated May 7, the SC “disposed of” the appeal of HBEPL and directed the Rajkot collector to distribute Rs 25 lakh to the affected villages. It has come over a decade after the NGT passed its order about compensation, said Pandya.

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“Our team will soon meet the Rajkot collector and municipal commissioner with the demand that the interest on Rs 25 lakh be included in the final amount. Moreover, we will also ask RMC (Rajkot Municipal Corporation) to give separate compensation to the villagers,” said Pandya.

After HBEPL became bankrupt, the Rajkot civic body signed an agreement with another company to manage the landfill. “The new company is managing solid waste at the site systematically,” he added. (PTI)







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