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Supreme Court directs Bihar government to ensure no further construction along river Ganga

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The Supreme Court on Friday ordered the Bihar government to ascertain that no further construction takes place adjacent to river Ganga, especially in and around Patna. The apex court has also directed the state to report to it on the progress of getting the 213 identified illegal structures, which have been constructed on the floodplains of River Ganga in Patna. 

A top court bench led by Justices Aniruddha Bose and Augustine George Masih passed the order in an appeal arising from an NGT order that disposed of the original application of Ashok Kumar Sinha in 2020. Sinha, a Patna resident challenged the illegal constructions of colonies, putting up of brick kilns and other structures along with a 1.5 km road by the Bihar government on the eco fragile floodplains of Ganga in Patna. 

Reports said that the appeal was lodged claiming complete violation of the River Ganga (Rejuvenation, Protection & Management) Authorities Order, 2016, under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. Appearing for the appellant, advocate Akash Vashishtha said to the bench that the Bihar government was actively allowing the illegal constructions on a regular basis on Ganga floodplains. 

During the proceedings, advocate Akash Vashishtha submitted that the primary concern is that they are not surveying the most affected and damaged areas. He added that almost the entire groundwater of Patna is affected with Arsenic contamination, a highly carcinogenic element, hence, the drinking water needs of Patna city is dependent on the health of the surface water, Ganga.

In addition, the Supreme Court desired to know the status of Ganga in West Bengal and Jharkhand. The court stated that it would expand the scope of the appeal to include the two states. The court also ordered Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati to take instructions in the regard and apprise the court on December 5.

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