The National Green Tribunal on Monday issued notices to the Uttar Pradesh government and the state Jal Nigam to show cause why penalties should not be imposed on them for their failure to provide clean drinking water in Ghaziabad, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Baghpat and Saharanpur districts.
Noting that people were forced to drink polluted water due to the state government’s inaction in villages in Ghaziabad, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Baghpat and Saharanpur districts, the green panel summoned the district magistrates and chief medical officers of Baghpat, managing director and chief engineer of UP Jal Nigam.
“The officials concerned, including district magistrate and officers from UP Jal Nigam, shall be present before the tribunal on September 7, the next date of hearing,” a bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said.
“... What steps were taken for the last 10 years to bring the polluted water within the prescribed parameters and to ensure that all the residents of these villages get potable drinking water without default and delay? Let the response to the show cause notice be filed within one week from today (sic),” the tribunal said in its order.
The directions came on the petition of Dr Chandra Vir Singh, a retired scientist and chairman of the Samiti, who had contended groundwater contamination.
He had also got a number of groundwater samples tested from places adjacent to three western UP rivers — Hindon, Krishni and Kali — and from areas located near industries in the region.
“We found that groundwater in these areas contained heavy metals. The health of villagers has suffered in six districts of western UP due to the consumption of contaminated groundwater,” Singh said.
The green panel had earlier lambasted the state government, Uttar Pradesh Jal Nigam and UP Pollution Control Board for risking the lives of children in the villages of these districts.
The tribunal had also constituted a committee to look into the issue. The committee, comprising chief secretary, chairman and member secretary of Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board, managing director of UP Jal Nigam was ordered to inspect and provide potable water.
Petitioner’s lawyer Gaurav Bansal had claimed that the UP government’s failure to provide clean drinking water to children had resulted in their developing serious physical disabilities.
He also submitted photographs showing infants and young children with mental and physical disabilities, purportedly caused by the contaminated water.