The National Green Tribunal has warned of more stringent action against the concerned officials for not complying with the law relating to the prevention of the discharge of untreated sewage into Sai River at Pratapgarh in Uttar Pradesh while imposing a cut of Rs 1,000 per month from the salary of the concerned officer till compliance.
The NGT noted that there is a continued violation of directions of the Supreme Court in "Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti & Anr. Vs. Union of India & Ors." and orders of this tribunal, which is resulting in contamination of drains and then of River Sai, which later meets Ganga.
"Taking a lenient view in the matter and giving the last opportunity for remedial action, factoring in the pandemic and the plea that the officer has been given this charge since February 2021, but to uphold public interest and rule of law, we direct imposing of cut of Rs. 1,000 per month from the salary of the officer till compliance, with further warning of more stringent action unless there is compliance and change in attitude towards compliance of the law," said the NGT bench headed by its chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel.
The NGT was hearing T S Singh's application seeking prevention of the discharge of untreated sewage into Sai River at Pratapgarh in Uttar Pradesh.
The tribunal noted that River Sai in the present case is also a tributary of Ganga and the irresponsible behaviour of the officer who perhaps knows nothing about the value of environmental norms and the effect of the violation on public health, food safety, aquatic life and overall environment has led to a large number of water bodies, including most revered river Ganga remaining polluted.
The stretch of river Sai between Unnao to Jaunpur falls under category P-V. Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) has not provided feedback to the OC on the formulation of the Sai Action Plan and the functioning of RRC. Further, PCB has failed to provide water quality data of river Sai, as directed vide order dated October 7, 2020.
The NGT noted that the river stretch is loaded with daily disposal of 8.5 MLD sewage effluent causing septicity of the river on account of high fecal coliform and BOD.
The court noted that there is no willingness of some officers to even take a small step to prevent discharge of pollution in water sources and untenable excuses are raised, inspite of the mandate of the Water Act, 1974 and the judgement of the Supreme Court, fixing deadline of March 31, 2018, for taking all necessary steps to ensure treatment of sewage before discharge in water bodies.
"Thus, even after all possible opportunities, there is either inability to understand the simple legal position or unwillingness to comply with the directions of the Supreme Court and this Tribunal out of defiance. The above statement shows that for making STP, which is said to have been 95 per cent complete 11 years back, and allotted funds having been misappropriated, the operation will require 12 months after award of work. There being no firm date of award of work, timeline given has no practical meaning," the NGT said.
"It is also not being delinked from NMCG. Thus, in effect, the stand is that it will never be done as NMCG has no fixed commitment of providing funds sought within a reasonable time. Already 11 years have gone by. "
"Contamination of water sources is a punishable offence under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 for the last 49 years. The stand of the State atleast since August 30, 2019 (when the first report was filed by the PCB as noted earlier) is that the STP was started in 2009 and completed in 2010 to the extent of 95 per cent. The same is not been made operational for the last 11 years. Earlier funds have been illegally misappropriated but no meaningful action is being taken against the violators," the NGT noted.
Advocate Priyanka Swami appeared for the state of UP with Additional Chief Secretary, Urban Development Department, State of UP Rajneesh Dubey and Lawyers Pradeep Misra with Daleep Dhyani, was representing UPPCB.