National Green Tribunal pulls up Railways for Pollution around railway tracks in the country

New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) today pulled up the Ministry of Railways for not filing its reply on the steps to control pollution caused by plastic products and human defecation around railway tracks.

A bench, headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar, directed the Ministry of Railways, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and others to file their replies within two weeks after they sought more time.

“We find no justification whatsoever to grant further time. However, in the interest of justice we grant two weeks time by way of last opportunity. If the replies are not filed, the concerned officers shall be present before the Tribunal with complete records.

“In the meanwhile, the Ministry of Railways, MoEF, Central Pollution Control Board, along with Rail India Technical and Economic Services (RITES), shall hold a meeting at the level not below the rank of Additional Secretary, Government of India, and suggest measures that should be taken to control and prevent the menace of environmental hazards resulting from plastic and other wastes being thrown on the railway track and human defecation,” the bench said.

The bench also ordered that the minutes of the meeting of the Committee shall be placed on record of the Tribunal on October 27, the next date of hearing.

The Tribunal was hearing a petition filed by lawyers Saloni Singh and Arush Pathania seeking a blanket ban on use and sale of plastic products on railway platforms across the country besides a ban on open defecation by people around tracks.

The petitioners had alleged the activity of dumping plastic waste and discharging human waste on tracks was adversely affecting the ecosystem.

The petitioners had also sought appointment of a committee consisting of eminent environmental activists, experts and lawyers to study the impact of such activities.

“Direct the respondents to form a task force to look after proper disposal of plastic and human waste already generated on the railway tracks so that there is no further degradation of environment,” the plea had said.