High-powered panel to penalise Hindon polluters
The National Green Tribunal has also ordered prosecution of owners of industries under the Water Pollution Act, 1974
While hearing a case regarding the high pollution level in river Hindon, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Friday formed a high-powered committee under the Uttar Pradesh chief secretary that will meet within a week to take immediate action to tackle the pollution.
It will also deploy field monitoring teams to assess the ground situation of the river. The tribunal has also asked the committee to penalise erring industries at least a minimum 10% of their turnover for past violations (but not less than the estimated cost of environmental damage) and submit a complete action taken report before June 30.
The court has also ordered prosecution of owners of industries under the Water Pollution Act, 1974. Additionally, the state has also been asked to pay a compensation at the rate of ₹2 crore per MLD (million litres per day) of waste water.
Setting August 1 as the next date of hearing, the green court expressed its dissatisfaction over the condition of the river despite past court orders in this regard.
The Hindon originates in the Shakumbhari Devi range in the Upper Sivaliks in district Saharanpur and flows thought the districts Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Meerut, Baghpat, Ghaziabad in western Uttar Pradesh before merging with the Yamuna in Gautam Budh Nagar. It is a tributary of the Yamuna and has a length of approximately 400km and an approximate basin or catchment area of 7,083 square kilometres. It is a completely rain-fed river, supported by a network of marshes and wetlands across its length.
The pollution levels in the river have earned it a ‘dead river’ status and its water was declared ‘unfit’ even for bathing, according to the Central Pollution Control Board report of 2015.
According to the data released by the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) in 2022, the presence of faecal coliform stood at an average of 197,778 most probable number (MPN)/100ml at Karhera; 193,333 MPN/100ml at Mohan Nagar; 1036667 MPN/100ml at Chhajarsi in Ghaziabad and 864,444 MPN/100ml at Kulesara in Noida for the period between January and September 2022.
Similar high ranges were also found by UPPCB at four sampling locations in 2020 and 2021.
“There is rampant unregulated industrial and sewage pollution and neglect by the authorities in the state of Uttar Pradesh. No meaningful action has been taken against errant industries and local bodies. Neither prosecution nor erring industries have been closed nor adequate compensation to meet the cost of restoration with deterrent element, considering financial capacity of the industries, has been assessed and recovered. Liability of the state for discharging untreated sewage has also not been fixed,” said the order passed on March 17.
The orders also said an ”action plan for restoration of polluted stretch of river Hindon from district Saharanpur to district Ghaziabad” was prepared by the authorities but was never implemented.
“It is only on paper and nothing substantial has been done on the ground level. The river thus continues to be highly polluted in the entire length of its travel, particularly in district Ghaziabad and Gautam Budh Nagar,” said the order.
Petitioner in the case, Abhisht Kusum Gupta, a resident of Noida, said, “This is one of the biggest battles we have fought so far for the well-being of Noida. We are between two rivers, Yamuna and Hindon, and still, we suffer from paucity of fresh water. We need to fight for clean natural resources around us.”