Water pollution severely affects health of citizens, says NGT

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New Delhi, July 2 (PTI) Noting that water pollution is severely affecting the health of citizens, the National Green Tribunal has directed the Haryana Chief Secretary to 'take remedial measures' against the discharge of industrial effluents at Hamidi village in Yamunanagar district.

Clean environment is part of fundamental rights and inalienable Constitutional obligation of the State, and the law of the land makes discharge of pollution in water sources punishable criminal offence, the NGT said.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said it is high time that the authorities at all levels, particularly that of the Chief Secretary, accord high priority to the matter.

“Accordingly, we direct the Chief Secretary, Haryana to review the situation and take remedial measures in the matter to uphold the rule of law and for protection of public health.

“A report of status of compliance on the subject may be furnished by the Chief Secretary, Haryana before the next by e-mail,” the bench said.

The NGT said that the authorities should come out with a comprehensive plan covering the entire State to ensure bridging of gap between the waste generation and waste treatment.

“It is well acknowledged that water pollution severely affects the health of the citizens, affects the food chain and water availability, apart from other consequences.

“Having regard to the fact that large number of deaths and diseases take place on account of water pollution, the offence of water pollution in practical terms is as serious as causing homicide or grievous hurt,” the bench said.

The NGT said that Laws have been enacted to give effect to the international obligations to uphold the principle of 'Sustainable Development' which includes 'Precautionary' principle as well as 'Polluter Pays' principle which this Tribunal is also mandated to implement under Section 20 read with Section 15 of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010.

“Sources of funding have been identified Supreme Court judgment, however, in spite of all statutory framework, the public authorities unfortunately continue to fail in discharge of their constitutional and statutory duties.

“Under the directions of this Tribunal, different Departments have been required to be coordinated by the Chief Secretary at the State level and by the District Magistrates at the District level. There has also been National level coordination by the Ministry of Jal Shakti to share the best practices,” the bench said.

The tribunal said that ways and means are available for bridging the gap of waste generation and treatment including hybrid annuity models and other models for septage management, discussed in above orders of this Tribunal.

It is a matter of regret that inspite of repeated directions, the problem remains unattended to the detriment of public health and public interest, the NGT said.

The matter is posted for next hearing on October 7.

The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by Haryana resident Chaudhary Ompal and others against discharge of untreated industrial effluents at Village Hamidi, District Yamunanagar.

The drain carrying the effluent is connected to Dhanaura Escape, Village Dabkoli, Indri, which finally joins Yamuna.

“The said discharge is contaminating the ground water. The foul smell is affecting the inhabitants and the public health. The chemical discharge is also affecting the cattle and the agriculture fields,” the plea said. PTI PKS SA

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