Madurai,Jan20(PTI) The Madurai Bench of the MadrasHigh Court has refused to give permission for operating threebone crushing mills in Tenkasi, pending a final decisiontaken by the TNPCB on their applications seeking renewal ofits consent under the Air (Prevention and Control ofPollution) Act,1981 and Water(P and CP) Act,1974.
Disposing of a batch of writ petitions filed by theproprietors of the mills, a Division Bench, comprising JusticeN Paul Vasanthakumar and Justice R.Subbiah, directed the TamilNadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) to pass final orders onthe renewal applications within four weeks.The petitioners were also ordered to cooperate with theBoard and submit all necessary documents.
Of the three mills in Tenkasi in Tirunelveli district, onewas functioning from 1957,the other from 1986 and the thirdfrom 1998. Each unit was producing 12 to 25 tonnes of crushedbone from raw bones.The consent orders issued to these millsby the PCB had expired in 1998 itself.Yet, they continued tofunction on the strength of the renewal application filed bythem along with the requisite fee paid through demand drafts.
In the meantime,a resident welfare association in thelocality filed a civil suit against the units and a PILwas also filed in the High Court Bench.
Pending adjudication of the PIL petition, the TNPCB orderedclosure of the three units besides snapping the electricityconnection as recommended by the District EnvironmentalEngineer who inspected the units on April 7, 2010. The millswere accused of acting in contravention of the Air (P and CP)Act, 1981. It was found that the units were surrounded byresidential buildings.
An appellate authority of the TNPCB too confirmed theclosure order and hence the present writ petitions. Assailingthe closure order, the petitioners'' counsel contended that theTNPCB ought not to have ordered shutting down of the unitswithout passing any orders on their renewal applications whichwere pending for long.
Partly agreeing with him, the judges said it was not fairon TNPCB''s part to keep the applications pending afterreceiving the requisite fees. But the units could not beallowed to function till the consent orders were renewedbecause the Air Act does not state that permission would bedeemed to have been given if the authorities failed to passnecessary orders within a specific time limit.