New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal has exempted the chief secretary of Uttarakhand from personal appearance to explain the steps taken by the state government to clean the river Ganga in the stretch between Gomukh and Haridwar.
A bench headed by Justice Jawad Rahim noted the submission of the chief secretary that his presence was required in the state capital due to exigencies of service and the Budget Session of the state Assembly.
"Considering the factual position in totality and the fact he holds the office of chief secretary, there may be contingencies which are unavoidable. Thus without expressing any opinion we exempt his appearance on appearing on April 3, 2018 subject to further orders that we pass on that date," the bench said. The green panel had directed the senior bureaucrat to be personally present on April 3 to give first hand information on Ganga cleaning and expressed dissatisfaction over the supplementary compliance report filed by the state noting that is was "factually incorrect".
Earlier, advocate M C Mehta, who has filed a plea for cleaning of Ganga, had said that there were deficiencies in the compliance report and it does not answer whether the directions of the tribunal have been complied with. The green panel, in a detailed judgement, had passed a slew of directions to rejuvenate Ganga, declaring as 'No Development Zone' an area of 100 metres from the edge of the river between Haridwar and Unnao and prohibiting dumping of waste within 500 metres from the river. The tribunal had said that the government had spent over Rs 7,000 crore in two years to clean the Ganga "which still remains a serious environmental issue". The order, running into 543 pages, said "till the demarcation of floodplains and identification of permissible and non-permissible activities by the state government of this judgement, we direct that 100 metres from the edge of the river would be treated as no development/construction zone between Haridwar to Unnao in UP." 'No-development zones' are areas where no construction including commercial or residential buildings can come up. It also imposed a complete prohibition on disposal of municipal solid waste, e-waste or bio-medical waste on the floodplains or into the river and its tributaries. The tribunal reiterated its earlier order of ban on mechanical mining in Ganga and said "no in-stream mechanical mining is permitted and even the mining on the floodplain should be semi-mechanical and preferably more manual".