Little progress by Haryana in reducing Yamuna pollution: NGT committee
The Yamuna Monitoring Committee (YMC), appointed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), in its recently submitted fifth report to the NGT, has described Haryana’s progress in reducing pollutants entering the Yamuna river as “negligible”. The Haryana government had, in September last year, set December 2020 as the deadline for upgrading sewage treatment infrastructure, in fulfilment of long-pending instructions from the NGT.
However, random inspections of 24 sewage treatment plants (STPs) in Panipat, Sonepat, Rohtak, Bahadurgarh, Gurugram, Faridabad, Yamunanagar and Palwal over the past three months have revealed operational deficiencies in at least 16 of them. These 16 plants have an operational capacity of 452 million litres a day (MLD), against Haryana’s total sewage generation of 1,164MLD. “The SOP prepared for operation and maintenance of STPs are not being followed... the compliance status given by the line departments were incorrect and the officers of HSPCB being the regulatory authority are not performing their duty assigned under the Provision of Water Act, 1974/EPA 1986,” the YMC committee report notes.
The YMC also randomly inspected 12 common effluent treatment plants (CETPs) in these same districts and found none of them to be complying with pollution control norms. “Contrary to the claims of complying status by the Line Department, all these 12 Nos. of CETPs is found non-complying. The HSIIDC is constructing the CETPs without considering the effluent characteristics of the industries operating in the Industrial Estate,” the YMC has noted.
“Our last review of the matter was in January 2020. Since then, only an additional 1.2 percent of Haryana’s total sewage per day is being diverted to treatment plants. So any benefit, if at all, is negligible,” said a member of the YMC, requesting anonymity.
The official also pointed out that though STPs are being constructed in key areas, laying of sewer lines (particularly in Palwal, Rohtak, Karnal, Panipat and Faridabad) is progressing slowly. “This means that even if an STP is built, the sewage cannot reach the plant and is instead discharged into one of 11 major drains in Haryana that lead to the Yamuna. The BOD levels in all these drains were found to be in excess of permitted limits, and the latest available results were submitted to the NGT in June 2020,” the official added.
Faridabad remains the biggest polluter of all monitored locations, as per the YMC’s findings, with not a single functional STP in place. In all, Faridabad was found to be discharging 210MLD of untreated sewage in the Guanchi and Budhia drains, which lead to the Yamuna. Of the 1,164MLD of sewage produced in Haryana, at least 500MLD is untreated, while a significant chunk of the remains is only partly treated due to operational deficiencies with STPs.
While S Narayanan, member secretary, Haryana State Pollution Control Board, could not be reached for comment on Thursday, a senior district-level official said that a detailed reply to the YMC’s report would be filed soon before the NGT.
“As far as monitoring is concerned, we have already received orders from the head office to ensure stricter monitoring. It is up to various urban local bodies to ensure that their infrastructure — including STPs — are working. In all, Haryana remains a much smaller polluter than Delhi, which discharges nearly 3,000 MLD of untreated or partially treated sewage to the Yamuna directly,” the district official cited above said.
Officials of the Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority could not be reached for comment.