NGT forms panel to check Yamuna clean-up drive
The tribunal said the new committee will be responsible for overseeing directions made by the NGT in all previous orders concerning the Yamuna.
Unhappy with the progress made so far in cleaning up the Yamuna in Delhi, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Monday said the multiplicity of agencies could be one of the reasons behind the lack of success so far, and formed a high-level committee headed by lieutenant governor Vinai Kumar Saxena to oversee future progress, and to ensure that timelines for completion of work are met.
The other members of the committee include the Delhi chief secretary; secretaries of the Delhi irrigation, forest and environment, agriculture, and finance departments; secretaries of the Union agriculture, environment and Jal Shakti ministries; the Central Pollution Control Board chairman; and the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) director general. The committee has been asked to submit its first report to the tribunal before January 31.
The tribunal said the new committee will be responsible for overseeing directions made by the NGT in all previous orders concerning the Yamuna. It will also be required to meet within one week and “continue to meet atleast once in every week for next six months” and therefore, needed to set targets which were “meaurable and identifiable”.
The NGT further noted that currently, there is a huge gap in the generation of sewage and available waste treatment facilities, with 194.5 million gallons per day (MGD) of sewage yet to be trapped, which included 147 drains that were yet to be tapped.
“The Interception and diversion of about 147 drains (connected to Najafgarh and Shahdara drains) and other small drains joining bigger drains remains. Waste water from 1799 unauthorized colonies and 630 JJ clusters is reportedly going to Yamuna Having multiple authorities in Delhi may be one of the reasons for not achieving success so far. There appears to be lack of ownership and accountability and huge amount has already spent without desired results,” the order said.
The tribunal also came down heavily on local bodies, including the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), stating despite having powers, no penal action was being taken against erring industries or local authorities that were polluting the Yamuna.
“DDA has to take measures for protecting flood plain zones while drain owning agencies – DJB, Irrigation Department and Municipal Corporation etc. have to maintain drains free from pollution. Punishable offences are provided not only in the Water Act but also under IPC, but DPCC does not appear to be taking coercive measures against erring industries or even local authorities who rampantly continue to discharge pollution in Yamuna and the drains,” said the tribunal.
Activist Manoj Misra, who is the convener of the Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan (YJA), said efforts to revive and clean the river are welcome, the Yamuna requires a committee in which its members can spend their entire time dedicated to its clean-up.
“The Yamuna Monitoring Committee (YMC), which was headed by retired expert members, was also fulfilling this purpose, but it was dissolved by the NGT. While this new committee can fulfil a similar role in terms of the power granted by the NGT, its members will not be able to dedicate their entire workload to the Yamuna, as they will also be dealing with other issues concerning the city,” he said.