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Allahabad High Court seeks response from UP authorities over steps taken to protect river Ganga

The division bench of Justices Manoj Kumar Gupta, Siddhartha Varma and Ajit Kumar sought response in this regard while hearing a PIL filed by Re Ganga Pollution.

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The Allahabad High Court on Friday sought responses from various  authorities in UP in regard to protection of river Ganga and the steps taken by it to ensure that the water quality of the river is not deteriorated.

The division bench of Justices Manoj Kumar Gupta, Siddhartha Varma and Ajit Kumar  passed this order while hearing a PIL filed by Re Ganga Pollution.

The order was passed in a suo moto case registered by the High Court in the year 2006, to protect and restore the river.

An application seeking intervention has been filed by Advocate Ms. Tripti Verma, claiming that she happened to visit Prayagraj for the Magh Mela event being held on the banks of rivers Ganga and Yamuna and found that water of both the rivers had deteriorated severely.

The intervenor informed the Court that the water had turned dirty and blackish and was stinking. It was neither fit for bathing nor drinking. It was also alleged that Kalpwasees and Sadhoos, who had assembled on the bank of the two rivers during the auspicious month of Magh, were drinking R.O. water as the water of two rivers is no more fit for human consumption.

It is also alleged that the Sewage Treatment Plants are not functioning properly. Untreated water is being discharged directly into Ganga and Yamuna rivers. The water level has also fallen.

Shailesh Singh, Advocate for the Petitioner, in one of the connected Petitions, has drawn attention towards the order dated  October 20, 2010 whereby a direction was issued to the State to produce notification, if any, issued for imposing ban on the use of polythene/plastic within a radius of two kilometers of the holy river Ganga and in all the major cities situated on its bank. It is submitted that despite the above direction, the plastic/polythene is being permitted to be used by shopkeepers and Kalpwasees.

H.N. Tripathi, Advocate appearing for the U.P. Pollution Control Board, submitted that he would take instructions from the Board and apprise the Court of the latest position regarding quality of water in the two rivers, working of the Sewage Treatment Plants, and discharge of effluents.

When the Court inquired about the matter from the Advocate appearing for the UP Pollution Control Board, he sought some time to seek instructions. Counsels appearing for Nagar Nigam and the State Government also sought time to apprise the Court of the latest status.

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Having regard to the above submissions, the Court issue the following directions:‐

A. The U.P. Pollution Control Board shall forthwith take three samples of water from three different places of the rivers Ganga and Yamuna in Prayagraj and after getting it tested, submit a report relating to its quality on the next date. The report shall specifically state whether the water is fit for human consumption and if not what steps are being taken to make it fit for human consumption.

B. The District Magistrate, Prayagraj, is directed to submit a status report regarding the working of the sewage treatment plants in and around Prayagraj in the light of the allegation that most of the S.T.P. ‘s are not in working condition. Necessary documentary evidence including photographs shall be annexed with his report. He shall also state in his report the steps taken to ensure uninterrupted water supply in the two rivers during the auspicious month of Magh. In this respect it is open to him to obtain requisite data from the relevant authorities.

C. The Municipal Commissioner, Nagar Nigam, shall file his personal Affidavit giving details of the number of drains flowing directly into river Ganga and Yamuna in District Prayagraj and what measures are in place to tap the impurities and pollutants. He shall also submit a report regarding the use of plastic/polythene in Magh Mela area.

D. The State Government shall bring on record notification, if any, issued by it regulating use of polythene/plastic in and around river Ganges and Yamuna.

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The Court has also directed the concerned authorities to place the relevant material on record by January 28, 2021.

The matter is fixed for hearing on January 28, 2021.

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