Gauri Maulekhi v. Union of India

Access to Justice
Pollution, Water Industrial water pollution

Gauri Maulekhi v. Union of India, Original Application No. 486 of 2014 (May 4, 2016)
National Green Tribunal

A community member filed a case with the National Green Tribunal to force regulators to control toxic effluent and fly ash being discharged by a paper manufacturer, Century Pulp and Paper (“Century”) .

The Tribunal found that although Century has permission to operate under air and water pollution laws, it is obligated to keep pollution discharges within legal parameters.  A Joint Inspection team convened by the Tribunal discovered significant pollution problems downsteam of the pulp and paper mill and recommended improvements to Century’s pollution control systems. 

Century attempted to lay blame for water pollution in the Gola River on other manufacturing industries operating in the same area, but the Tribunal rejected this argument, stating: “a fact remains that [Century] had contributed to the environmental pollution in some measure as aforesaid. Degree of contribution to pollution is immaterial while deciding the liability of polluter.” Para. 28. 

The Tribunal ordered Century to comply with pollution control recommendations provided by the Joint Inspection Team within three months and pay a significant fine.  The Tribunal also constituted a team of scientists to carry out a study of the Gola River to ascertain the extent of environmental degradation and make recommendations for measures to restore the waterway to the State of Uttrakhand.  Para. 31.   

The Tribunal ordered Century to pay costs to the community member who filed the case.