The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has ordered the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the Ministry of Environment and Forests () to take action against the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) for failing to prevent untreated industrial waste from being released into Ulhas river.
The division bench of justice Jawad Rahim and expert member DK Agrawal also rapped the MoEF for failing to submit its action-taken report against the state pollution control board. The MoEF was supposed to submit the report in the first three weeks of April.
The bench said government officers will face penal action and prosecution under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010 if they fail to follow the tribunal’s orders. “Therefore, unless it is brought on record that there is no deliberate neglect, we will be constrained to initiate proceedings under Section 26 to prosecute by imposing penalty of imprisonment for the period prescribed and fine thereunder. Besides Head of Department shall also be prosecuted under Section 28 of the Act,” read the April 29 interim order.
The order stated, “We feel that this contemplated action can be deferred in order to give more time to authorities to comply with the directions and we give them finally ten (10) days’ time to complete the process of taking action against the MPCB and report (sic).”
Read: SC sets aside Bombay HC order on Ulhas river
In 2013, NGO Vanashakti, citing violation of environment rules, filed a petition at the NGT seeking a direction to MPCB to shut all the industries discharging untreated effluents into Ulhas river.
The tribunal, during its hearing, termed the proceeding as “unusual” as it was initiated by the CPCB against its own arm for “inaction and lack of sense in the officials to discharge statutory duties at MPCB, particularly in the matter relating to CETPs (Common Effluent Treatment Plants) at Dombivli and Ambernath”. Subsequently, the NGT had issued notices to the MPCB.
“During the course of proceedings, we have passed several directions, which have been flouted by MPCB,” read the order.
The NGT had then directed the MoEF to get the MPCB to take action as stipulated in the Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.
“All this exercise resorted to by the tribunal has been an exercise in futility (sic),” stated the bench.