- Environment and public health not being prioritised by UP civic bodies: NGT
- Municipal corporations alleged that funds were not released by the stat
- NGT issued show cause notices to civic bodies & pollution control board
New Delhi: In a strong worded rebuttal to municipal bodies across Uttar Pradesh, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) highlighted their failure to stop discharge of untreated sewage into the river Ganga. The tribunal said that concerns about the environment and public health were not a part of the municipal bodies’ priority list. Representatives of municipal corporations from Mirzapur, Fatehpur, Chunar and Bhadohi cited financial crunch, an allegation the NGT bench refused to entertain.
“It appears that environment and public health do not fall on priority list of all these respondents,” the bench told PTI.
The municipal corporations alleged that no money was released on behalf of the state government to work on sewage treatment systems in the major cities from where sewage seeped into the river. The NGT bench said that the apathy shown by municipal corporations was not new and for years they have been coming up with the same excuse. The NGT also said that the municipal bodies themselves have never shown much interest to check the flow of untreated sewage into the river. Continuous delays to implement suggestions by previous NGT benches have resulted in the present state of the river, the bench observed. The NGT will once again take up the matter for hearing on July 27. Earlier this month, the NGT had warned Kanpur tanneries over delaying the setting up of effluent treatment plants.
The tribunal had earlier asked the Uttar Pradesh government to reply why environmental compensation should not be slapped on it for its “intentional” non-compliance of statutory obligations regarding discharge of untreated sewage water into the Ganga. While issuing a show cause notice to the state government, the NGT had earlier said that “Environment and public health does not fall in its priority list” as it was “undisputed” that no action was taken by the state pollution control board and municipal bodies to prepare an action plan on cleaning the river.
In 2015 and 2016, we had issued show cause notices to the municipal bodies from where maximum untreated sewage flows into the Ganga. The funds from the state government were not adequate to build new sewage treatment plants or upgrade existing ones. We have asked the municipal corporations to request for more funds from the state, said Ashish Tewari, Member Secretary, Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board.
The NGT was hearing a plea of the CPCB seeking directions to the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) and the CEOs of these five municipal councils to “prepare a plan of action to clean river Ganga and water bodies, ground water and soil in a time-bound manner and recover the cost of preparation and execution of such plan of action from the polluters”.
Advocate Balendu Shekhar, appearing for the CPCB, had said the respondents (UPPCB and five municipal councils) had failed to provide adequate sewage network and install sewage treatment plants for effective treatment of sewage discharged into the river.
The issue of untreated sewage flowing into the river Ganga from cities like Kanpur and Allahabad has haunted the Namami Gange project. From 2012 to March 2017, Rs 2,2911 crore has been spent on cleaning the Ganga. 5 new sewage treatment plants (STPs) have been constructed in UP between 2015-2018 under the programme, and 3 more are under construction. At least 15 more STPs are needed to counter the flow of untreated sewage into the river. The presence of industries and large number of households has made it difficult to build new sewage treatment plants with increased capacity. Despite assurances by UP Chief Minister, who said that there would be no sewage flow into the Ganga after December 2018, and Union Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari, who promised 70 to 80 per cent of the river cleaned by March 2019, stemming the continued flow of sewage into the river will be a challenge for the local municipal corporations.
With inputs from PTI