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Sunday, Dec 08, 2019

River pollution: Negligent officials will be prosecuted, says NGT panel

Panel head justice Jasbir Singh (retd) gives a dressing down to officials indulging in blame game

cities Updated: Dec 04, 2019 23:17 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh

A National Green Tribunal (NGT) panel monitoring river pollution in Punjab, headed by Justice Jasbir Singh (retd), on Wednesday warned that officials who will fail in performing their duty to curb river pollution will be prosecuted.

Justice Singh gave the warning during a meeting with top officials of the district administration and municipal corporation, Jalandhar, including deputy commissioner Varinder Kumar Sharma, mayor Jagdish Raj Raja, MC commissioner Diperva Lakra.

Panel members former chief secretary Sabodh Kumar, Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) secretary Babu Ram and environmentalist Balbir Singh Seechewal also attended the meeting.

Officials of the irrigation, drainage, panchayat and rural development, soil conservation and industry departments were also present.

During the meeting, Justice Singh gave a dressing down to the officials who indulged in blame game over their failure to curb river pollution.

The drainage department officials claimed that MC did not give them a “single penny” after 2013 to clean the 15-km stretch of Kala Sanghian drain that passes through Jalandhar city. They said the annual cleaning cost of the drain was around Rs 25 lakh.

Talking to mediapersons, Justice Singh said the pollution level of water is turning worse day by day while the groundwater in the state is already in the dark zone.

“We have been continuously monitoring the ongoing projects by the administration and will visit again to check the work done at the ground level,” he said.

He said the panel directed the officials of district administration and MC Jalandhar to give a timeline report on the solid waste management project, sewage treatment plants (STPs) and others works in the district.

Justice Singh said the officials will have to mention the timeline of each project right from the preparation of detailed project report (DPR), tendering, date of execution and completion in their reports and the committee will check the progress of the projects regularly by visiting the sites.

He said the panel has directed the officials to complete all projects in a time-bound manner and asked them to give ‘top priority’ to environment so that “we can give a safe future to coming generations”.

The panel told the MC to plug all discharge outlets from where untreated water is pumped into the drains and ensure speedy execution of the work on bio-remediation of garbage dump in Wariana.

He said the officials informed them that they have started to process to float tenders for the new STPs and Wariana dump will be also cleaned as per the guidelines.