Dehradun/New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Uttarakhand government to ensure that no illegal camping takes place on the banks of river Ganga and its tributaries.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel directed the Uttarakhand Pollution Control Board to prohibit discharge of any sewage or industrial effluents either directly into the river or its tributaries.
It warned that any failure must result in deterrent compensation being recovered from the persons/authorities responsible for discharge of untreated sewage/effluents into the river.
"Such compensation must be deterrent and adequate to recover the cost of restoration. This is necessary to ensure that polluting of river Ganga is no longer a profitable activity. Repeated directions of the Supreme Court and this tribunal in the last 34 years should not remain on paper. The committee constituted by the tribunal may identify persons responsible for failure, including the officers and authorities of the state government," the bench said. The NGT directed that wherever sewage treatment plants are non-compliant, stringent action must be taken and every polluting activity must be stopped till adequate remedial steps are taken. The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) may ensure compliance with regard to prevention and removal of encroachments, maintenance of e-flows, afforestation and setting up of bio-diversity parks, ground water regulation, sand mining regulation, it said.
"The state of Uttarakhand may ensure that no illegal camping takes place on the banks of river Ganga and its tributaries. We may make specific mention of alleged illegal camping at Piyani village in District Pauri Garhwal towards Neelkanth road. Policy of e-flows may be clearly spelt out by the state of Uttarakhand," the tribunal said.
"We are surprised at the attitude of the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board and the NMCG which is in violation of orders of this tribunal and the mandate of law. Officers concerned of the UPPCB and the NMCG are liable to be proceeded against by way of coercive measures.
"Accordingly, we overrule the views of the UPPCB and the NMCG and upheld the view of CPCB and direct immediate closure of all the polluting discharges by such industries into Ganga or its tributaries. Compliance of this direction may be ensured by the UPPCB. The Member Secretary of the UPPCB may remain present in person before this tribunal on the next date along with compliance report and explanation for violating the directions of this tribunal," it said.
Action may be taken against any individual or establishment discharging pollutants in the drains or river by closure of such activity, prosecution and recovery of deterrent compensation which is adequate to meet the cost of restoration, the tribunal said.
It also directed the UP government to provide requisite funds to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for remediation of chromium dumps at Kanpur dehat, Khanpur and Rakhi Mandi and ensure proper e-flows from the Narora barrage.
The tribunal's order came while perusing a report filed by Justice U C Dhyani which said that some sewage treatment plants are still under construction and STPs at some important locations are non-compliant.
The green panel had appointed former Uttarakhand High Court judge Justice Dhyani as head of the three-member committee to oversee rejuvenation work of the Ganga river.
The green panel has divided the work of cleaning the river in different segments Gomukh to Haridwar (Phase-I), Haridwar to Unnao (termed as segment B of Phase-I), Unnao to border of Uttar Pradesh, border of Uttar Pradesh to border of Jharkhand and border of Jharkhand to Bay of Bengal.