The Punjab government had filed two review petitions with the NGT, saying the state had taken remedial measures and was willing to spend <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>50 crore on landscaping Buddha Nullah in Ludhiana. The tribunal observed that taking future steps is not a ground for not paying compensation for the damage already caused. (Representative image.)
The Punjab government had filed two review petitions with the NGT, saying the state had taken remedial measures and was willing to spend 50 crore on landscaping Buddha Nullah in Ludhiana. The tribunal observed that taking future steps is not a ground for not paying compensation for the damage already caused. (Representative image.)

NGT directs Punjab to deposit 50 cr with CPCB immediately

Tribunal rejects state govt’s review plea and asks it to deposit amount with Central Pollution Control Board forthwith for eco-restoration of the Sutlej and Beas rivers.
By Gagandeep Jassowal
PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 03:28 PM IST

The National Green Tribunal has dismissed review applications filed by the Punjab government against a 2018 order, requiring the state to pay environmental compensation of 50 crore for polluting the Sutlej and Beas rivers.

Hearing the matter on January 22, the NGT directed Punjab that the 50 crore needs to be forthwith deposited with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for eco-restoration of the Sutlej and Beas rivers.

The Punjab government had filed two review petitions with the NGT on January 19 and said that the state has taken several measures, including in-situ remediation of the drains connected to the rivers. “The state is willing to spend 50 crore on landscaping Buddha Nullah in Ludhiana,” the application said.

STATE HAS TO BE MODEL OF COMPLIANCE: TRIBUNAL

The NGT said that Punjab’s appeal had already been dismissed by the Supreme Court and the tribunal’s directive was merged in the apex court’s order, so no review was permitted. “Even after the dismissal of the state’s appeal a year ago, the order of 2018 has not been complied with for which we do not find any justification. Taking future steps is not a ground for not paying compensation for the damage already caused,” the NGT order said.

The tribunal said that the state has to be model of compliance of binding orders but “it is acting at its sweet will with no respect for the rule of law”. The NGT directed the amount needs to be forthwith deposited with the CPCB, as already directed for being spent on restoration in terms of a plan, approved by the CPCB.

“The draft plan may be prepared by Punjab for consideration by the CPCB chairman. It should primarily cover eco-restoration of the rivers,” the NGT order concluded.

FINED IN 2018 FOR INDUSTRIAL DISCHARGE IN RIVERS

On November 14, 2018, the NGT fined the Punjab government 50 crore for polluting the Sutlej and Beas due to uncontrolled industrial discharge. It directed that the amount deposited with the CPCB would be used for the restoration of the environment and relief to victims with the liberty to recover the amount from erring industries, local bodies, individuals and lax officers.

The NGT had clubbed cases of river pollution in Punjab in 2018, one based on a 2014 petition from Rajasthan-based activists Shabnam Godara and Sobha Singh of Hanumangarh district in Rajasthan, which claimed that polluted water from the Sutlej and Beas, entering the state through the Indira Gandhi Canal, was affecting eight districts there.

The Indira Gandhi Canal the longest canal of India. It starts from the Harike barrage, a few kilometres below the confluence of the Sutlej and Beas in Punjab and terminates in irrigation facilities in the Thar Desert in northwest Rajasthan.

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