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NGT fumes as state officers skip meet on river pollution

Directs chief secretary to take action, fixes April 22 as the next date of hearing
By Gagandeep Jassowal | Hindustan Times, Chandigarh, Jalandhar
UPDATED ON JAN 02, 2020 04:01 PM IST

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has pulled up the Punjab government for failure of its officers to respond to a notice by the tribunal’s monitoring panel to attend a meeting on water pollution.

During a recent hearing, the principal bench of the NGT directed the Punjab chief secretary to take action against officials for non-compliance and fixed April 22 as the next date of hearing.

On November 26, the NGT’s monitoring panel on river pollution headed by justice Jasbir Singh (retd) had shot off a letter to the tribunal pointing at the non-serious attitude of Punjab officers, including principal secretaries of the local government and water resources departments, after they didn’t attend a meeting on the discharge of untreated water into Holy Bein, following which it had to be cancelled.

The committee also passed resolution saying: “Serious issues regarding discharge of untreated water into Holy Bein and non-compliance of directions issued by the committee have been raised from time to time. Senior officers, including the principal secretary, local government, and principal secretary, water resources, were requested to attend the meeting on November 26 at 11.30am at Forest Complex, Sector 68, Mohali. They were also intimated on November 25 through email and telephonic message.”

The resolution further reads that no communication was received from the officers that they will not be able to attend the meeting. “We waited till 11.45am, but received no message. This shows that the officers are non-seriousness about the extremely important issue which concerns future generations. It also shows their disrespect to the directions issued by the committee constituted by the NGT. Let a report be sent to the NGT to take appropriate action,” reads the resolution.

The NGT directed the state government to take steps for setting up of treatment plants, compliance of standards by the existing STP’s as recommended by the monitoring committee and fixing responsibility of officials for non-performance and inadequate inspection by officials of the Punjab Pollution Control Board.

NGT PANEL REPORT ONCE IN 2 MONTHS

The NGT directed the monitoring panel to give its report once in two months to the tribunal, chief secretaries and the state pollution control board. The chief secretary or the pollution control board chief may look into the report and submit response to the NGT within two weeks, reads the order.

FUNCTIONING OF PANEL

The NGT order said the monitoring committee has to give a status report to the tribunal and its functioning should not be viewed as giving final directions to regulatory bodies. The state regulatory bodies may take into account the observations of the committee in their functioning and act on their own after considering the response of violators. The committee will be at the liberty to point out to the NGT that action taken by the regulatory authority was not adequate.

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