The National Green Tribunal on Wednesday (09th September) directed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to lay down guidelines pertaining to disposal of cigarette and beedi butts within 3 months.
The Bench comprising Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel (Chairperson NGT), Justice S.P. Wangdi and Dr. Nagin Nanda has issued the aforesaid direction following a report filed by the CPCB.
It may be noted that an application was filed by an NGO 'Doctors for You' on 23.09.2015 with a prayer to direct regulation of disposal of cigarette and bidi butts, apart from prohibiting the consumption of tobacco in public places.
Notice was issued on 28.09.2015 to the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Tobacco Board and other respondents.
The Ministry of Health in its response submitted that Tobacco was detrimental to health. The cigarette and bidi butts were not biodegradable. There was no thorough research on the effect of such butts.
Vide order dated 12.04.2019, the Tribunal directed that a study be conducted by the Indian Institute of Toxicology Research (IITR) on the question of whether the cigarette and bidi butts fall within the category of toxic waste or not. The CPCB assigned the project to the IITR on 30.10.2019. On 03.02.2020, the Tribunal was informed that the IITR will give its report by 20.02.2020.
The said report was filed on 20-08-2020 and which states,
"The analysis reflects that the concentrations detected will not be toxic to the human and environment. Cellulose acetate is a major component (95%) of the cigarette butts along with the wrapping paper and rayon. In general, the toxicity data are not available for cellulose acetate."
It further states,
"Recycling of cellulose acetate after recovery from the cigarette butts may be suggested as one among the immediate solution to the problem until the degradation and safety data are generated"
The Reported observed the following points as well
* The analysis of the cigarette/bidi butts reflect that as per the concentration of various parameters analyzed are lower than the prescribed limits and will not be toxic to human & environment.
* Cellulose Acetate is a major component of the cigarette/bidi butts and its degradation studies show that it will persist for a longer duration. The degradation studies under natural environmental conditions and laboratory simulating conditions will be required to conclude the safety/toxicity of cigarette butts to further, correlate with human health risk assessment
To this, the Bench observed,
"In view of above, while tabacco is undoubtedly harmful and the concerned authorities are seized of the remedial action, the Tribunal is mainly concerned with the manner of disposal of cigarette/bidi butts. An expert study has been conducted. We do not find any valid reason to reject the expert report."
Accordingly, the Court directed that the CPCB may lay down guidelines for disposal of cigarette/bidi butts, in the interest of the environment, within three months.
Case Title: Doctors For You Applicant(s) v. MoEF & CC & Ors.
Case No.: Original Application No. 433/2015
Quorum: Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel (Chairperson NGT), Justice S.P. Wangdi and Dr. Nagin Nanda
Appearance: Advocate Jaideep Singh (For Applicant); Advocate Raj Kumar (for CPCB) Advocate Mukul Singh (for MoEF&CC); Advocate Ravi Shankar S.S., (for R-6); Advocate Anand Varma (for R-7)