Eighteen years after the Supreme Court took cognisance of a report published in HT on pollution in the Yamuna, a bench headed by Chief Justice of India SH Kapadia on Monday said it intended to pass orders to ensure that no person, industry or corporation discharged untreated effluent or sewage into the river.
“This court is concerned with the pollution being caused to the Yamuna and complete deterioration in the quality of water in the said river, not only in Delhi, but also in the states of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh,” the bench, which also included Justice AK Patnaik and Justice Swanter Kumar, said.
On July 18, 1994, the court had taken a suo motu cognisance of an HT report titled ‘And Quiet Flows The Maily Yamuna’, and since then, it has been issuing directions to various government authorities to take steps to make the river pollution-free.
While making it clear to all parties that it would order no further adjournments in the case, the SC asked the authorities concerned to furnish details of the steps taken by them regarding the control of Yamuna Water Pollution caused by illegal occupants on either side of the river in Haryana, Delhi and UP. It directed the Central Water Pollution Control Board to take samples of the river water from Haryana, Delhi and UP till Agra and submit a report in four weeks.
The bench said it wanted to pass orders, which would ensure that “no person, including corporations or other industries, discharge sewage, trade or other effluent directly into the river, without treatment, as per the provisions of the Environment Protection Act”.
However, despite being clear in its intentions to achieve the objective of making the Yamuna pollution-free, when the matter came up for hearing on Monday, the bench was not clear about the background of the case and the directions it needed to issue to various authorities.
It directed counsel for all the parties, including governments of Delhi , Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, to file written submissions/ affidavits in six weeks, giving a complete background of the case, number of committees appointed on its orders, sewage treatment plants constructed, consultants engaged and the cost incurred so far by the central and state governments.
It also sought to know if the Comptroller and Auditor General of India or the state accounts department audited such expenditure, and if so, the particulars of the reports and shortcomings pointed out by them.
The court specifically wanted to know if no sewage treatment plants had been constructed, why it was not possible for the authorities concerned to construct such plants even after the lapse of such a long period. If sewage treatment plants could not be made operational, why alternative systems of sewage or trade disposal were not adopted rather than discharging metric cubic tonnes of discharge in the Yamuna, it wondered.