The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to monitor the progress of implementation of the action plan in accordance with Namami Gange project.
Tribunal direction came on Monday while hearing an application against the pollution of rivers Varuna and Assi in Varanasi by the discharge of untreated sewage and unauthorized constructions. The case set out in the application is that the above rivers are tributaries of river Ganga and cleaning of river Ganga cannot be imagined without first ensuring prevention of pollution of the said rivers.
The NGT bench headed by Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel on Monday said, “The issue of funding of the projects proposed may be worked by the NMCG and the Chief Secretary, UP and wherever Namami Gange funds are found inadequate, it will be the responsibility of the State of UP to provide the same.”
The NGT noted that an action taken report has been filed on 18.08.2021 by the UP State PCB on behalf of the Joint Committee and the report shows that there are serious issues adversely affecting rivers Varuna and Assi calling for remedial action in the form of desilting, remediation of wastewater, development of constructed wetland systems and bio-diversity parks, apart from management of sewage, industrial pollution and solid waste which requires concerted and continuing steps and monitoring.
Since the issues and remedial steps have been identified by the joint Committee and exhaustive recommendations for remedial action made, there is a need for execution of the action plan at the ground level in the light of the above report. This requires coordination among the concerned departments including the Local Bodies, District Administration and State Government, Tribunal noted.
NGT also took note that, the Supervisory and Execution Committees suggested in the report may take further action. In terms of suggestions of the Committee, the problem of choking at the origin point of said rivers may be remedied by taking restoration measures. The execution Committee may meet atleast once a month under the Chairmanship of District Magistrate, Varanasi and the Supervisory Committee may meet on a quarterly basis under the Chairmanship of Commissioner, Varanasi Division.
The District Magistrate as well as Commissioner, Varanasi Division may have full-time environmental coordinators attached to them directly for this purpose either out of the existing incumbents or by especially engaging a suitable person for the task. Having regard to the significance of the issue and need for prompt action for keeping the pollution of the important river free, the timelines need to be shortened which aspect may be considered by the Execution and the Supervisory Committees, NGT said.
According to the petitioner, Saurabh Tiwari, the water quality of the river Ganga in Varanasi is in bad condition. Faecal coliform bacteria count at Varun- Ganga confluence is 71 million per 100ML of water (Ganga Jal) and faecal coliform count at Assi River and Ganga confluence is 52 Million per 100ML of water and on Assi Ghat faecal coliform is 1 lakh 40 thousand per 100ML of Ganga Jal. The permissible limit of faecal coliform bacteria should not exceed 500 per 100ML of water. Reference has been made to a report on water quality prepared by Sankat Mochan Foundation in Varanasi. (ANI)