The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has urged that the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) issue guidelines for poultry farms with more than 5,000 birds, claiming that their owners cannot be considered small farmers and that their pollution potential cannot be ignored.
The argument that poultry farms with fewer than 25,000 birds are run by small farmers in the unorganized sector is untenable, according to a bench led by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, and goes against the precautionary principle of environmental law. It stated that all poultry farms with more than 5,000 birds must be regulated.
‘To this extent, the CPCB’s decision contradicts the decision of this Tribunal and violates the precautionary principle. A poultry farmer operating with more than 5,000 birds on the farm cannot be considered a small farmer, nor can their pollution potential be left unregulated,’ the bench stated in its December 10 order.
‘At best, some time can be allotted for phased regulation, as proposed in the March 2021 proposed guidelines. As a result, we direct that, while the contested guidelines are immediately enforced, all poultry farms with more than 5,000 birds are subject to the contested guidelines no later than January 1, 2023,’ the bench added.
It noted that the siting requirements should be applied to any future consents or renewals for chicken farms of the aforementioned sizes. According to the NGT, in response to the abovementioned order, the CPCB may issue amended recommendations to all state pollution control boards within a month.
The Tribunal was hearing a petition filed by environmental activist Gauri Maulekhi against the alleged insufficiency of the regulatory system under the Water and Air Acts’ consent mechanism to preclude environmental destruction affected by unregulated poultry farming activities.
The NGT has earlier requested that the CPCB reconsider the standards for categorizing poultry farms as a green category sector and exempting them from certain laws. It also requested that the CPCB issue appropriate orders within three months.
It had stated that if no further orders were issued, all State pollution control boards would be required to enforce the consent mechanism under the Air, Water, and Environment Protection Acts.