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'Ganga Water Not Fit For Drinking Purpose': UP State Pollution Control Board Tells Allahabad High Court

Akshita Saxena
29 Jan 2021 4:01 PM GMT
Ganga Water Not Fit For Drinking Purpose: UP State Pollution Control Board Tells Allahabad High Court
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The Uttar Pradesh State Pollution Control Board on Thursday told the Allahabad High Court that the water of river Ganga is not fit for drinking purpose. The submission was made in a suo moto case registered by the High Court in the year 2006, to protect and restore the river. The matter came to be listed after an intervention was filed by Advocate Tripti Verma, claiming that water...

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The Uttar Pradesh State Pollution Control Board on Thursday told the Allahabad High Court that the water of river Ganga is not fit for drinking purpose.

The submission was made in a suo moto case registered by the High Court in the year 2006, to protect and restore the river. The matter came to be listed after an intervention was filed by Advocate Tripti Verma, claiming that water of rivers Ganga and Yamuna has deteriorated severely.

Last week, a Full Bench comprising Justices Manoj Kumar Gupta, Siddhartha Varma and Ajit Kumar directed the concerned authorities to file their responses by January 28, 2021.

When the matter was taken up on Thursday, the State Pollution Control Board submitted a water quality analysis report, indicating that the water of river Ganga is not fit for drinking purpose but is fit for bathing purpose.

Amicus Curiae AK Gupta informed the Bench that untreated water of various drains are being directly flown in both Yamuna and Ganga rivers and as a result, the water has changed in colour. He also pointed out that several drains (nalas) are still untapped, despite several directions by the Court that all drains need to be connected through Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs).

In view of these submissions, the Bench has sought details about (i) steps being taken by the Government authorities for treatment of drains through the process of bioremediation, (ii) in how much time it proposes to connect the remaining drains to STPs, (iii) number of prosecutions launched so for violation of order banning use of disposable plastic, etc.

Inter alia, the Court has permitted Amicus Curiae AK Gupta alongwith cousnels appearing for Government authorities to personally visit the STPs and other discharge points and ghats, in order to apprise themselves of current status relating to working of STPs and other process by which drain and sewerage water is being allegedly treated.

The matter is now listed for consideration of February 4, 2021.

State's Submissions

During the hearing, the District Magistrate, Prayagraj, had submitted that all STPs are functional and all discharge parameters are within range prescribed by the Central Government.

The Municipal Commissioner of Prayagraj informed the Bench that three private agencies have been appointed for treatment of drain discharge through bioremediation. Further, six drains are being treated by National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI).

The amicus however opposed these submissions and alleged that the disclosures made in the affidavits filed by the authorities are not correct. He sought time to bring on record photographs and other evidence to show that untreated water is still being flown into two rivers and even water of nalas which are connected to STPs is overflowing as the STPs are of under capacity.

The Full bench has granted liberty to the Petitioner to bring on record evidence to show that STPs are working or not and whether untreated water, as alleged by them, is being discharged in rivers Ganga and Yamuna directly.

Inter alia, it has ordered:

  • The Municipal Commissioner, Nagar Nigam, Prayagraj shall file his personal affidavit bringing on record the agreement with the three private agencies to whom work of treatment of drains through the process of bioremediation, has been entrusted. The manner in which these agencies are being monitored in relation to discharge of their obligation under the contract, shall be brought on record supported by documentary evidence. The amount of microbial consortia that had been mixed by these agencies while carrying out the treatment process, shall be disclosed in view of the contention of learned counsel for the petitioners that the said process is operational only on paper and infact little or virtually no microbial consortia is being mixed to treat water flowing through these drains. It shall be open to the petitioners to bring on record any expert opinion regarding viability and effectiveness of the process of cleaning drains through bioremediation and whether it is a short-term measure or could be permitted to be continue indefinitely.
  • The State Government shall state on affidavit in how much time it proposes to connect the remaining drains to STPs.
  • The Central Government shall file affidavit disclosing whether IIT Consortium has submitted any report in respect of the work entrusted to it for the management of Ganga River Basin and in case, report has been submitted, the same shall be brought on record. It shall also be clearly disclosed as to what measures has been adopted by the Central Government so far to ensure the optimal environmental flow in two rivers in compliance of the directions issued by this Court on 19.1.2011 and 3.2.2012. The Central Government shall also disclose the project, if any, undertaken by Ganga Basin Authority to preserve environmental flow of the two rivers and flora and fauna in Ganga Basin.
  • The Municipal Commissioner, Nagar Nigam, Prayagraj, in his affidavit shall also disclose details of fine imposed till date for violation of the notification dated 15.7.2018 as well as number of prosecutions launched so far. Similar disclosure shall be made by the Mela Officer Incharge, Magh Mela, Prayagraj in respect of enforcement of the notification in the area coming under his control.
  • We direct that the Nagar Nigam, Prayagraj and Magh Mela Authority shall ensure rigorous enforcement of the notification banning plastic bags and other disposables of thickness less than 50 microns within their territorial limit and that no plastic waste is littered on the ghats and banks of two rivers.

Case Title: Re Ganga Pollution v. State of UP & Ors.

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