Not much happening towards Ganga cleaning; NGT warns officials

The green court severely reprimanded Uttarakhand, UP and other states in an order passed on May 14

In a recent judgment the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had asked the states of, “Uttarakhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and West Bengal to place the status of water quality on their websites and update the same on monthly basis indicating fitness of water at various places for drinking/bathing purposes.” Further the NGT order directs the CPCB to indicate water quality of river Ganga at boundaries of the said states on its website.

The NGT order further directed, “The CPCB along with Minister of Environment Forest & Climate Change (MoEF & CC) to develop guidelines for setting up of bio-diversity parks. The CPCB can take the services of an external expert who has successfully guided DDA to set up bio-diversity park in Yamuna flood plain near Delhi.”

The NGT expressed concern over the fate of Ganga and lambasted Uttarakhand, UP and other states for their failure to take sufficient steps to curb discharge of pollutants into the Ganga. The NGT said in its order “that no amount of wealth generation or commercial or industrial activities can get priority over cleanliness of river Ganga. Any individual or establishment violating the environmental norms with respect to river Ganga must be strictly dealt with under the law and special cells must be created in the concerned states to monitor such action on daily basis

Earlier, the NGT had directed that a Monitoring Committee for the area falling in Segment-A of Phase-I for Uttarakhand be formed. It is being headed by Justice U.C. Dhyani, former Judge of Uttarakhand High Court.

On a report submitted on May 9 by Justice U.C. Dhyani steps were shown for tapping of drains. The report revealed that some STPs were still under construction and STPs at some important locations are non-compliant. The NGT order said that, “In view of the said report, Uttarakhand Pollution Control Board needs to prohibit discharge of any sewage or industrial effluents either directly into river Ganga or its tributaries in view of statutory prohibition under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, apart from orders of this Tribunal. Any failure must result in deterrent compensation being recovered from the persons/authorities responsible for discharge of untreated sewage/effluents into the river. Such compensation must be deterrent and adequate to recover the cost of restoration.”

“The Committee constituted by the Tribunal may identify persons responsible for failure including the officers and authorities of the state government.

Wherever STPs are non-compliant, stringent action must be taken and every polluting activity must be stopped till adequate remedial steps are taken. The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) may ensure compliance with regard to prevention and removal of encroachments, maintenance of e-flows, afforestation and setting up of bio-diversity parks, ground water regulation, sand mining regulation. State of Uttarakhand may ensure that no illegal camping takes place on the banks of river Ganga and its tributaries. We may make specific mention of alleged illegal camping at Piyani village in District Pauri Garhwal towards Neelkanth road. Policy of e-flows may be clearly spelt out by the State of Uttarakhand. The State may have its own effective mechanism to monitor e-flows,” the NGT order laid out.

The green court lamented that every time the progress has been found to be unsatisfactory and added that the Tribunal will now have no option but to take more stringent measures unless satisfactory remedial action is taken. The NGT will further hear the matter on May 29.

Prasoon Pant,