Chennai: In a major embarrassment for the Tamil Nadu government, the National Green Tribunal has slapped a Rs 100 crore penalty on the administration for failing to restore the Chennai waterways — Adyar, Cooum and Buckingham Canal — causing damage to the environment and public health.
"In view of the consistent failure of the state so far, we are tentatively inclined to require the State of Tamil Nadu to pay a sum of Rs 100 crore as compensation for damage to the environment with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for the past failures in preventing damage to the environment. The amount may be used for restoration of the environment," the order read.
"However before taking a final view, a joint committee comprising representatives of CPCB, Indian Institute of Sciences-Bangalore, Madras School of Economics, NEERI and the State Pollution Control Board, may assess the causes and quantum of damage to the environment as well as further steps required for restoration of environment which are not covered in the action plan," it added.
The NGT observed that the failure to treat sewage and pollutants in water bodies is a 'criminal offence' and anyone permitting it is liable.
The tribunal has directed the committee, headed by the chief secretary, to hold fortnightly meetings for the next three months and review the progress on a monthly basis.
The tribunal said that though an Tntegrated Cooum River Eco-restoration Project was launched in 2015, the progress has been far from satisfactory.
(With Inputs from Satheesh Lakshmanan)