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Above: Industrial effluents in the Hindon have caused a severe health crisis/Photo: Anil Shakya

The National Green Tribunal asks the UP government to furnish a bond of Rs 5 crore to ensure the implementation of its action plan within six months

The Uttar Pradesh government has been pulled up by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) for its lax and non-cooperative approach in implementing an order passed in August last year. The order related to remedial measures to be taken for tackling unabated pollution in the Kali Nadi, Krishna and Hindon rivers that has led to disease and death in six districts of the state.

The Tribunal directed the state to furnish a performance guarantee of Rs 5 crore to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and to ensure that the action plan submitted by a monitoring committee set up by the NGT is implemented within six months. In the event of failure to implement the action plan, the amount would be forfeited.

The Tribunal was dealing with an application filed by an NGO, Doaba Paryavaran Samiti, which sought to highlight the issue of extreme water pollution caused by industries operating illegally around the Kali Nadi, Krishna and Hindon. The applicant had prayed that the NGT issue directions against the dumping of hazardous material into the waters. According to the applicant, residents of the areas along the banks of the rivers have been severely affected by the polluted waters.

Consequently, they are suffering from diseases like hepatitis, cholera, kidney failure, liver damage, mental retardation, cancer, bone diseases, deformities and several other fatal illnesses. The poor, who cannot afford bottled water, have been adversely affected as they are left with no other option but to consume the polluted water. The Tribunal noted that from the photographs submitted, it was clear that infants and young children had developed serious disability, mental and physical, rendering their life burdensome and difficult.

Independent studies conducted in the areas revealed that at least 71 persons have died from cancer and at least 47 are bedridden in Gagnoli village. More than 1,000 people in these areas are reportedly affected by various diseases and inhabitants of 154 villages are affected by pollution caused by industries, including sugar mills, distilleries, paper mills, slaughterhouses and others.

The Tribunal had in January last year constituted a committee for the purpose of carrying out a survey in the area. It was revealed that 124 industries were not complying with the environmental standards. The Tribunal constituted a monitoring committee headed by Justice SU Khan, and including representatives of the CPCB and the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change to formulate a time-bound action plan aimed at providing relief to the residents of the area and curbing pollution caused by the industries.

In its report, the committee said that the main source of pollution in the river was the discharge of untreated sewage and industrial effluents in districts like Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Meerut, Baghpat, Ghaziabad and Gautam Budh Nagar. The report showed that the authorities have taken no steps to supply drinking water to the affected areas and no efforts have been made to identify the victims for payment of compensation.

The Tribunal was told that the committee was unable to perform the functions assigned to it with regard to health check on account of non-cooperation of authorities and thus could not undertake awareness programmes either.

The chief secretary of UP was asked to provide logistical support to the committee to enable it to oversee the implementation of the action plan.

—By Pragya Ratna

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