With Agra On The Brink Of Waste Water, Sewerage Management Crisis, NGT Asks UP To Furnish Performance Guarantee Of Rs 25 Cr [Read Order]
As mismanagement of solid waste, sewerage and drainage system and consequent pollution of river Yamuna stares the city of Agra as well as the eco-sensitive Taj Trapezium Zone in the face, the National Green Tribunal has directed the Uttar Pradesh government to furnish a performance guarantee of Rs 25 crore under the 'Precautionary Principle' to comply with the timelines in the action plans for water supply, waste management etc.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said, "On 'Polluter Pays' principle, damages can be recovered not only from the polluters but also from the State functionaries who collude with the polluters. The authorities have not been fully successful in their performance of duties to protect the environment."
"On Precautionary Principle also, to ensure that statutory authority do not continue to ignore their duties of taking action of protecting the environment, this Tribunal instead of permitting pollution to continue can require Performance Guarantee to be furnished. The present is a fit case where such power must be exercised. It will be in the fitness of things, having regard to the facts and circumstances of the case that the authorities are required to furnish performance guarantee. In view of grave situation affecting the public health in a big way and failure of authorities in discharging their duties, we direct the State of Uttar Pradesh to furnish a performance guarantee in the sum of Rs. 25 crores to the satisfaction of the Central Pollution Control Board to comply with the timelines in the action plan to be submitted, consistent with the earlier orders of this Tribunal…within one month," it said.
It granted liberty to the government to determine the liability of erring officers and polluters and to take appropriate action against them, besides taking steps to recover appropriate compensation from the identified polluters in accordance with law and furnish an action taken report within three months to the tribunal.
The tribunal was hearing the petition filed by the Social Action for Forest and Environment (SAFE) showing how the authorities were blatantly violating Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016, Hazardous and other Wastes (Management and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016 and Bio-medical Waste Management Rules, 2016 in the city of Agra as well as the areas coming under the Cantonment Board, Agra and eco-sensitive zone of Taj Trapezium Zone.
The tribunal also took note that the drainage system in the city was 55 years old and not workable and heaps of waste was being dumped in the drains while also criticizing it in another related matter as to how the state had constituted a committee of serving officers, instead of a monitoring committee, which has taken no interest in the work and not contacted the monitoring committee for river Yamuna in Delhi even once.
The NGT also took on record the report of a joint committee comprising representative of Central Pollution Control Board, a nominee of NEERI and the District Magistrate, Agra, to ascertain the factual position with regard to drinking water supply, sewerage, drainage system and solid waste disposal.
The committee opined that the city of Agra does not have adequate basic civic amenities in respect of water supply, sewerage, sewage treatment and solid waste management and made several recommendations. The NGT directed Uttar Pradesh to immediately take steps in terms of those recommendations.
It also directed the Chief Secretary of Uttar Pradesh to remain present in person on March 12 to report on various environmental issues while also directing that the concerned authorities may also furnish their progress report to the monitoring committee (headed by Justice Devi Prasad Singh, former judge, High Court of Allahabad) constituted by the tribunal on the issue of solid waste management.
Read the Order Here