List steps to protect rivers, improve water quality: HC to State
The division bench was irked to note that indiscriminate construction and development is taking place on river beds, along river banks and river fronts across the statemumbai Updated: Apr 25, 2018 00:15 IST
Observing that the state government is under obligation to protect river banks from encroachments and improve the quality of river water, the Bombay high court on Tuesday directed Maharashtra government to file an affidavit enlisting the steps it intends to take to safeguard river fronts and improve quality of river water.
The division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Riyaz Chagla was irked to note that the state government has scrapped the July 2009 river water policy and indiscriminate construction and development is taking place on river beds, along river banks and river fronts across the state.
What annoyed the judges more was that the quality of river water in Maharashtra has worsened in the meanwhile. According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), most rivers in the state are polluted. The February 2015 report of CPCB stated that it measured quality of water of 49 rivers at 159 spots in Maharashtra and found 153 samples non-compliant with regard to the Biological Oxygen Demand (BoD).
The bench said that the river water policy of 2009 was framed after the state government itself realised the need to protect river banks and improve river water and the policy was amended in 2011. However, now, there are absolutely no regulations even though the quality of river water has worsened and rampant development has taken place along river banks.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by NGO Vanashakti complaining that rampant construction is taking place on river beds, along river banks and on river fronts, as they are absolutely no regulations governing constructions and development along rivers.
Its lawyer, senior advocate Gayatri Singh pointed out that all 39 rivers flowing through Maharashtra are highly polluted, indiscriminate constructions are being made along river fronts and access of the general public to rivers is being obstructed.
Singh also pointed out that the July 2009 policy of Maharashtra environment department has been scrapped in November 2015 and thereafter there were no regulations governing constructions along rivers.
The court has asked the state government to file the affidavit by June 22 and posted the PIL for further hearing on June 26.