Of the 300-odd directions issued across India regarding water pollution in the past three years, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has not issued a single direction or taken any action against any polluting agency, person or organisation in Delhi.
Between 2009 and 2012, the CPCB issued 195 directions to violating industries and gave 97 directions to state pollution agencies to take action against erring units. However, Delhi finds no mention in the list of 23 states.
This data was submitted in reply to a question by Anil Madhav Dave in the Rajya Sabha. Pointing to the fact that more than two dozen drains dump untreated sewage into the Yamuna, Dave said, "The answer makes it clear that the Centre either does not consider the Yamuna's stretch in Delhi as polluted or if it does, it does not acknowledge that fact."
"This is an immensely irresponsible answer to Parliament and the people who run it. I will follow it up in the next session," he added.
With limited manpower, the agency can hardly monitor smaller industries, said a senior CPCB official. "Moreover, as we have no power to take action, we concentrate on certain polluting industries. Domestic sewage dumped by local agencies is basic responsibility of state boards," he said.
Sources in the CPCB and in its Delhi counterpart said these agencies are hardly taking any action because cases about the Yamuna pollution are going on both at the high court and the Supreme Court. Regular monitoring is done and data sent to the court.
But all that JS Kamyotra, member secretary of the CPCB, said was that "under the Environment Surveillance Squad (ESS), if the industries are found to be non-compliant, directions are issued to them or to the state pollution boards under Section 18 (1)(b) of Water and Air act for directing industries to take corrective measures. That data was presented in Parliament."
But environmentalists do not buy this argument. "How can the CPCB abdicate its responsibility? The court hasn't asked them not to take any action against polluters," pointed out Himanshu Thakkar of South Asia Network of Dams, River and People.
"(The state of the) Yamuna is a national shame (and the) CPCB is majorly responsible. What is their achievement otherwise?" he added.