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Bombay High Court disposes of PIL against Goa Sponge

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Panaji: The Bombay High Court at Goa on 15.9.2021 disposed of PILWP 38/2019 filed by the Goa Foundation in connection with the dumping of industrial waste in illegal quarries in Sanvordem by Goa’s Sponge Pvt Ltd.

 

The PIL was filed after villagers from the area contacted the Goa Foundation in early 2018 to bring to its notice that fly ash was being dumped in empty abandoned quarries by the unit and this was disturbing their environment.

 

Earlier, in 2006, the same unit had given an undertaking during an earlier petition filed by the Goa Foundation (WP No. 85/2006( that no fly ash would leave the factory premises except in the form of fly ash bricks to be used for construction.  During the present proceedings it emerged that several thousand tons of fly ash had been sent over three years to various brick manufacturing units outside the plant premises despite the undertaking. Villagers confirmed that fly ask began to be dumped in the quarries by the end of 2017 itself.

 

In order to ensure that no fly ash was indeed being dumped into the quarries the Bombay High Court decided to appoint the Goa Engineering College (GEC) to submit a report after studying the samples taken from the quarries.  Though the Goa Foundation filed several objections to the manner in which the report was prepared by the GEC, the Court ultimately felt that “there is no reason not to accept the conclusion recorded in the report that the materials dumped in the quarries were not fly ash.”

 

After the filing of the PIL the unit had already stop further dumping of any waste materials in the quarries and brought to a halt despatch of any fly ash for brick materials to other parts of Goa.

 

The petitioners recommended to the court that the unit ought not to be allowed to expand production in view of the fact that its brick making unit could only absorb a certain number of tons of fly ash per day.

 

The Goa Foundation also recommended that the dumping of slag in different areas of Sanvordem by the company should be subject to an EIA and not be allowed indiscriminately and on an ad hoc basis.

 

The Court, however, felt that these recommendations were better submitted by the petitioner before the Goa Pollution Control Board which would be the appropriate authority to decide these matters.

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