New Delhi, Mar 12 (PTI) A clean environment is a basic right of citizens and the plea of non-availability of funds cannot be an excuse for not ensuring it, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has said while rapping the Uttarakhand government over waste disposal dump yards illegally set up on the bank of the Khoh river in Kotdwar.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said in view of the repeated failures of the state, a case is made out for taking coercive action against its senior officers, including the secretary, urban development, for violation of statutory rules, which is a punishable criminal offence, and also to require payment of compensation for the continuing damage to the environment, with a direction to recover from the erring officers.
The tribunal said the progress is not adequate in terms of the timelines laid down under the Solid Waste Management Rules and the damage to the environment is continuing, which is a criminal offence.
'Clean environment being basic right of citizens, a plea of non-availability of funds cannot be an excuse.... However, by way of the last opportunity, we direct the chief secretary, Uttarakhand to take remedial action and file his own affidavit within a month by e-mail,' the bench said.
The green panel said the damage to the environment and public health is being caused not only on the account of a delay in clearing the legacy waste, but also for not complying with other provisions of the rules, resulting in a huge gap in the generation and the processing of waste.
The NGT was hearing a plea filed by Uttarakhand resident Arvind Baniyal against the waste disposal dump yards illegally set up on the bank of the Khoh river at Ratanpur, Kashirampur, Gadighat and near the sports stadium in Kotdwar, where garbage is being burnt, which is polluting the river water. PTI PKS RC