Special Correspondent

Board may ask the unit to take corrective measures

“TNPCB Chairman has no jurisdiction to pass order”

CHENNAI: Setting aside an order of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) against Midas Golden Distilleries Pvt. Ltd in Sirumathur village, Kancheepuram district, the Madras High Court has remitted the case to the Board, which may make further inspection of the unit’s premises.

In its order on a petition by the unit, a Division Bench, compromising Justices S.J. Mukhopadhaya and M. Duraiswamy, said if there was any defect, the Board may ask the distilleries to take corrective measures. In such case, the unit should rectify such defects failing which it would be open to the Board to proceed according to law.

The distilleries, represented by M.R.P. Eravanan, challenged the TNPCB Chairman’s order of August 2006 under Section 33-A of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act whereby the unit was closed with immediate effect.

Petitioner’s counsel A. Navaneethakrishnan said no notice was issued under Section 33-A of the Act. No personal hearing was given during the proceedings.

Allowing the petition, the Bench said it was evident that certain technical fault had been detected; like increased production in February and March 2006 and that the unit had not operated the reverse osmosis plant to reduce water consumption. But, there was nothing on record to suggest water pollution by the unit to call for its permanent closure.

Under the legal provision, the Board had power to give directions. But, in the present case, no such direction was issued to the distilleries to rectify irregularities, if any, found during inspection. There was nothing on record to suggest that the matter was taken up or decided by the Board. On the contrary, the impugned order showed that the Chairman, in his independent capacity, had passed the order. He had no jurisdiction to pass the order under Section 33-A of the Act.

The Bench made it clear that the Board could not take any coercive step on the ground that the unit had increased its production during two months. But, it prohibited the unit from increasing its production over the permitted limit till such permission was granted by the competent authority to whom it had applied.

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