NGT slaps Rs 280 crore fine on 22 Kanpur tanneries for dumping chromium into Ganga
The National Green Tribunal on Monday rapped the Uttar Pradesh government for failing to check sewage discharge containing toxic chromium into Ganga at Rania and Rakhi Mandi in Kanpur, and imposed a penalty of ~280 crore on 22 tanneries for causing pollution. A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel also held the UP government liable and slapped a penalty of ~10 crore.
The green panel said the problem has not been tackled for the last 43 years, and it has resulted in contamination of ground water, thereby affecting the health and life of the inhabitants. The environment compensation of Rs 280.01 crore was assessed by the State Pollution Control Board.
“The fact remains that the problem has not been tackled for the last 43 years and it has resulted in contamination of ground water affecting the health and life of the inhabitants and fauna. Compensation has been assessed only in the year 2019, without it being clear whether there is a chance of actual recovery . There is no explanation for the earlier inaction by the State of UP and the UP Pollution Control Board (UPPCB),” the bench said.
The state government is liable to deposit the assessed amount in an ESCROW account for restoration of environment and the public health in the area under the ‘Public Trust Doctrine’, the NGT said. The deposit may be made within a month, the tribunal said.
It also held the UPPCB liable and directed it to pay Rs 1 crore for ignoring illegal discharge of sewage and other effluent containing toxic chromium directly into Ganga. “UP Jal Nigam is held liable to pay a sum of Rs 1 crore for releasing untreated large quantity sewage containing toxic chromium in Ganga. These amounts may be deposited with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) within one month which may be overseen by UP chief secretary,” the bench said.
Reacting to the NGT order, Asad Kamal Iraqi, general secretary, Kanpur Leather Welfare Association, said: “Such an order is like the last nail in the coffin of industry, which has been bleeding for the last two years. The industry has been complying with all the environment guidelines.”