The Southern Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) said Hindustan Unilever Ltd. (HUL) was carrying out remediation at the Kodaikanal factory site under the supervision of the Central Pollution Control Board and the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board. The reports from various agencies showed no violations by the company in the process.
The Bench further said it did not find any reason to accept suggestions made by counsel for Navroz Mody, the respondent, that the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) and experts were biased and an independent committee of experts had to be appointed.
The Bench, comprising judicial member Justice K. Ramakrishnan and expert member K. Satyagopal, however, directed HUL to carry out the process in accordance with the directions and recommendations of the CPCB and the TNPCB on the basis of the recommendations given by the expert committee. The company was also directed to carry out the process within a specified time line.
The CPCB and the TNPCB were given liberty to direct HUL to conduct further studies, if required, during the course of remediation to ensure complete restoration of the site, making it free from mercury contamination. The PCBs were also directed to conduct periodical inspections and take soil and water samples from the contaminated site, the nearby site at Pambar Shola and the downstream of the Pambar. If there was any further remediation to be conducted on the basis of the analysis, the company would have to do it.
The directions came on a case taken up suo motu by the NGT last year following media reports that the company was dumping hazardous waste in a place abutting the Kodaikanal Wildlife Sanctuary, which drained into Pambar Shola and the Pambar that feeds the Vaigai.
The Bench said that based on the reports submitted by different agencies and the joint committee formed by the NGT, there was no violation committed by HUL. The samples collected periodically by the supervisory committee, too, showed that the company adhered to the standards suggested for remediation.
NEERI submitted that the Canadian standard could not be applied in India and on that basis, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had given certain directions. Thereafter, the recommendations (to remediate 20 mg/kg) were made.