Tuesday, October 3, 2023

NGT disposes of plea seeking direction to Punjab to stop polluting drinking water

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The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has disposed of an application seeking a direction to Punjab to stop polluting drinking water in Ganga Canal flowing to Sri Ganga Nagar, Rajasthan.

The application has been filed by one G.S. Bansal. The applicant has averred that hundreds of persons are getting sick by drinking the polluted water. Some Senior Officers of the Punjab Administration are, by their inaction, supporting the factory owners in polluting Ganga Canal. The applicant has further averred that this Tribunal has warned several times but has not made any difference.

Vide order dated 05.07.2022, this Tribunal constituted a Joint Committee with direction to submit factual and action taken report.

In compliance thereof report of the Joint Committee has been filed vide email dated 16.03.2022.

The principal bench comprising Justice Arun Kumar Tyagi (Judicial Member) and Dr. Afroz Ahmad (Expert Member) have gone through the report of the Joint Committee. In the report of the Joint Committee, it has been mentioned that District Sriganganagar, Rajasthan received good quality of water throughout the year except in May and June when quality of water gets deteriorated due to stagnation near the gates during closure period of canal. Remedial measures have already been/are being taken as mentioned in the report of the Joint Committee. Appropriate filtration and chlorination of the drinking water received from the canal is done before supplying the same to the public through the distribution system. On analysis of the water samples drawn at different levels for chemical and bacteriological parameters and heavy metals from January 2022 till February 2023 no heavy metal were detected and various parameters were found within permissible limits. The sources of pollution discharging effluent to the drains leading to rivers have already been identified by the Punjab Pollution Control Board and remedial measures by way of setting up of STPs are being taken.

In the report, it has been mentioned that the incidents of cancer patients found in the area could not be attributed to canal water but still suggestion has been made for getting the study conducted from ICMR or any other Institute of Repute by CPCB regarding the problem so that appropriate remedial measures can be taken, if so required. The Joint Committee has also recommended that Government of Rajasthan must ensure that the raw water from the canal reaching the urban and rural areas of the District receives conventional treatment and disinfection before its supply to the public for potable purpose and to ensure that no unauthorized supply of canal water without required treatment and disinfection is available to the public, specifically in rural areas.

The NGT accept the report of the Joint Committee and directed that appropriate remedial measures as mentioned in the report of the Joint Committee be taken.

It is also directed by the NGT that Rajasthan Pollution Control Board (RJSPCB) and Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) to get a joint study conducted by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), New Delhi or Indian Toxicological Research Institute (ITRI), Lucknow to find out the root causes of increasing cancer patients in both the States as suggested in the report of the Joint Committee. The expenses of such study may be borne by RSPCB and PSPCB jointly in equal proportions. The Member Secretary, RSPCB shall be the nodal officer for the purpose of carrying out of the study and all maters related thereto. On completion of the study, copies of the study report shall be sent by the Member Secretary, RSPCB to the Chief Secretaries of Government of Rajasthan and Punjab respectively who shall take appropriate measures in accordance with the observations/recommendations in the study report, as may be required, in time bound manner. The Member Secretary, RSPCB and PSPCB shall also ensure that a copy of the study report be also uploaded on the website of the RSPCB as well as the PSPCB.

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