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Pollution Of Ganga Tributaries In Varanasi- NGT Directs Progress Monitoring Of Action Plan For Restoration Of Varuna & Assi Rivers

Sparsh Upadhyay
26 Nov 2021 1:45 PM GMT
Pollution Of Ganga Tributaries In Varanasi- NGT Directs Progress Monitoring Of Action Plan For Restoration Of Varuna & Assi Rivers
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Dealing with a case raising a grievance in this application is against pollution of rivers Varuna and Assi in Varanasi by the discharge of untreated sewage and unauthorized constructions, the National Green Tribunal's principal bench directed the NMCG and CPCB to monitor the progress of implementation of action plan in accordance with the Namami Gange project.The bench comprising of...

Dealing with a case raising a grievance in this application is against pollution of rivers Varuna and Assi in Varanasi by the discharge of untreated sewage and unauthorized constructions, the National Green Tribunal's principal bench directed the NMCG and CPCB to monitor the progress of implementation of action plan in accordance with the Namami Gange project.

The bench comprising of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, Chairperson, Justice Sudhir Agarwal, and Dr. Nagin Nanda, Expert Member noted that there are serious issues adversely affecting rivers Varuna and Assi calling for remedial action in the form of desilting, remediation of wastewater, development of constructed wetland systems and bio-diversity parks, apart from management of sewage, industrial pollution and solid waste which requires concerted and continuing steps and monitoring.

Significantly, the court has requested the Oversight Committee constituted by this Tribunal headed by Justice S.V.S. Rathore, former Judge of the Allahabad High Court to oversee the steps taken in the matter, if necessary, by periodically interacting with the Execution and Supervisory Committees.

Case background

The case set out by the petitioner, Advocate Saurabh Tiwari in his application was that the above rivers are tributaries of river Ganga and cleaning of river Ganga cannot be imagined without first ensuring prevention of pollution of the said rivers.

It was submitted that the water quality of the river Ganga at Varanasi is in bad condition.

The applicant further submitted that the Fecal coliform bacteria count at Varun-Ganga confluence is 71 million per 100ML of water (Ganga Jal) and fecal coliform count at Assi River and Ganga confluence is 52 Million per 100ML of water and on Assi Ghat fecal coliform is 1 lakh 40 thousand per 100ML of Ganga Jal.

Whereas the permissible limit of fecal coliform bacteria should not exceed 500 per 100ML of water, the applicant submitted.

On June 17, 2021, the Tribunal formed an independent Monitoring Committee comprising of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), State PCB, National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), and District Magistrate, Varanasi to ascertain the factual status and take remedial action.

Further, the NMCG was directed to file an action taken report in OA No. 200/2014, which related to the rejuvenation of River Ganga, inter alia covering status on water quality of Assi and Varuna.

Accordingly, an action taken report was filed on August 18, 2021, by the U.P. State PCB on behalf of the Joint Committee.

In this report, among other things, the revised action plan covering the Restoration and rejuvenation of the Varuna River and the Restoration and rejuvenation of the Assi River was proposed.

Thes proposed steps included de-silting, remediation of waste, development of floodplain, bio-diversity parks, sewage management, sludge management, industrial pollution management, solid waste management, removal of encroachments and monitoring mechanism.

Tribunal's order

Taking into account the revised action plan, the Tribunal observed that since the issues and remedial steps have been identified by the joint Committee and exhaustive recommendations for remedial action made, there is a need for execution of the action plan at the ground level in the light of the report.

Accordingly, the Supervisory and Execution Committees suggested in the report may take further action.

Against this backdrop, the Court issued the following directions:

  • The execution Committee may meet at least once in a month under the Chairmanship of District Magistrate, Varanasi and the Supervisory Committee may meet on a quarterly basis under the Chairmanship of Commissioner, Varanasi Division, as suggested.
  • The District Magistrate as well as Commissioner, Varanasi Division may have full time environmental coordinators attached to them directly for this purpose either out of the existing incumbents or by specially engaging a suitable person for the task.
  • It will be appropriate that minutes of the meeting of the District Magistrate as well as Commissioner, Varanasi are placed on their respective websites, which may enable public information and participation.
  • Having regard to the significance of the issue and need for prompt action for keeping the important rivers pollution free, the timelines need to be shortened which aspect may be considered by the Execution and the Supervisory Committees.
  • We request the Oversight Committee constituted by this Tribunal headed by Justice S.V.S. Rathore, former Judge of the Allahabad High Court to oversee the steps taken in the matter, if necessary, by periodically interacting with the Execution and Supervisory Committees.

Lastly, the Court opined that an action plan may be placed on the website of CPCB and also circulated by CPCB to the River Rejuvenation Committees of all the States/UTs through respective State PCBs/PCCs, for appropriate consideration of their respective action plans to the extent found necessary.

"The issue of funding of the projects proposed may be worked by the NMCG and the Chief Secretary, UP and wherever Namami Gange funds are found inadequate, it will be the responsibility of the State of UP to provide the same," the Court added while disposing of the application.

Case title: Saurabh Tiwari v. Union of India & Ors.

Click Here To Read/Download Order

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