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NGT slams Delhi Jal Board over Yamuna pollution

Jan 29, 2021 02:55 PM IST

The tribunal said water quality remains highly deteriorated as pollutants are still being discharged into the drains.

The National Green Tribunal has slammed the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) over pollution in Yamuna saying water quality remains highly deteriorated as pollutants are still being discharged into the drains.

A boatman wades through toxic foam floating on the river Yamuna at Kalindi Kunj in New Delhi.(PTI)

The green panel directed the Delhi Chief Secretary in coordination with the Chief Secretaries of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to personally monitor the progress of Yamuna cleaning by evolving effective administrative mechanism to handle grim situation caused by years of neglect.

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A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice A K Goel said it is clear that major problem of preventing pollution by discharge of sewage, industrial effluents and other pollutants remains unaddressed. 

There is hardly any improvement in evolving meaningful and effective institutional mechanism for monitoring. 

Though Integrated Drain Management Cell is reported to have started functioning, tangible results are yet to be shown, as noted in the report of the Yamuna Monitoring Committee (YMC). 

The tribunal noted that the YMC has particularly found that 147 drains in the catchment of Najafgarh and Shahdara drains have not been tapped.

The NGT said that YMC has noted huge gap in generation and treatment of sewage and has rightly recommended that all the drains in which untreated sewage is being discharged need to be intercepted and diverted so that the untreated sewage is not conveyed to the river. 

“Such gaps need to be bridged in UP and Haryana also. The IDMC and DJB have to ensure this for Delhi. The monitoring by Additional Chief Secretary and Chief Secretary Delhi has yet to take place. 

“Necessary devices for sewage and effluent treatment have still not been installed to the required extent. Inspite of availability of huge funds, DJB is not working in a professional manner, as observed by the YMC,” the bench said.

The tribunal said water quality remains highly deteriorated as pollutants are still being discharged into the drains. 

“Flood plains are not being made encroachment free, affecting the riverine ecology. Awareness programmes are inadequate. 

“Biodiversity parks and other measures have also been found to be inadequate. Frothing frequently found is in absence of regulating composition of detergents, which find place in the river through sewage, for which action needs to be taken by DPCC/CPCB/Ministry of Consumer Affairs. E-flow needs to be managed by resolving inter state issues administratively,” the bench said.

The tribunal said that accountability needs to be enforced against failure of time lines which are being changed at leisure with no adverse consequences against non-performers. 

Compensation regime needs to be strictly followed on 'polluter pays' principle which was not happening depicting failure of the regulators, it said.

The tribunal also said there is need for continuous and effective working of the IDMC to plan and oversee prevention of untreated sewage being discharged in the drains or the river. 

Apart from discharge of sewage, there is need to stop industries from discharging effluents by concerned statutory authorities, it said.

“The issue of protection of flood plains by the DDA remains to be satisfactorily addressed even though steps are said to have been taken for constitution of a SPV for the purpose. 

“Encroachment is huge and steps taken are miniscule. Meaningful working of special purpose vehicle by DDA will depend on success to remove encroachment and keeping continuous vigilance,” the bench said.

The tribunal said the YMC has functioned for more than two years and contributed in a big way in steering the authorities with a clear road-map by its exhaustive reports on every aspect but the action taken by authorities has been found to be inadequate.

“We place on record our appreciation for the contribution of YMC in the last more than two years. With the taking over of the further monitoring by the Chief Secretaries of NCT of Delhi, Haryana and UP, proceedings of the Committee constituted by this Tribunal on the subject will stand concluded,” the bench said.

The green panel had directed the Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh governments to take expeditious action on sewage management, industrial pollutants and solid waste being discharged into the river.

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