Principal bench of National Green Tribunal has directed all State and Union Terrritories to ensure that 100 percent in-situ remediation of sewage, by March 31, 2020, of the water which flows in rivers across India.
A bench led by Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said "If this is not done, the local bodies and the concerned departments of the States/UTs will be liable to pay compensation, in the case of river Ganga, Rs. 5 lakhs per month per drain, for default in in-situ remediation and Rs. 5 lakhs per STP for default in commencement of setting up of the STP.
The tribunal while hearing a plea based on a news report published in the Hindu, about 351 polluted stretches of rivers in India,directed that "Timeline for completing all steps of action plans including completion of setting up STPs and their commissioning, till 31.03.2021. In default, compensation will be liable to be paid. In the case of river Ganga, Rs. 10 lakhs per month per STP.
The tribunal also directed that an institutional mechanism be evolved for ensuring compliance of above directions. For this purpose, monitoring may be done by the Chief Secretaries of all the States/UTs at State level and at National level by the Secretary, Ministry of Jal Shakti with the assistance of NMCG and CPCB.
A meeting at central level must be held with the Chief Secretaries of all the States/UTs atleast once in a month (option of video conferencing facility is open) to take stock of the progress and to plan further action. NMCG will be the nodal agency for compliance who may take assistance of CPCB and may give its quarterly report to this Tribunal commencing April 1, 2020.
Further, the Chief Secretaries may set up appropriate monitoring mechanism at State level specifying accountability of nodal authorities not below the Secretary level and ensuring appropriate adverse entries in the ACRs of erring officers. Monitoring at State level must take place on fortnightly basis and record of progress maintained. The Chief Secretaries may have an accountable person attached in his office for this purpose. Monthly Progress report may be furnished by the States/UTs to Secretary, Ministry of Jal Shakti with a copy to CPCB. Any default must be visited with serious consequences at every level, including initiation of prosecution, disciplinary action and entries in ACRs of the erring officers.
Procedures for DPRs/tender process needs to be shortened and if found viable business model developed at central/state level. Wherever work is awarded to any contractor, performance guarantee must be taken in above terms. CPCB may finalize its recommendations for action plans relating to P-III and P-IV as has been done for P-I and P-II on or before 31.03.2020. This will not be a ground to delay the execution of the action plans prepared by the States which may start forthwith, if not already started.