Saturday, December 9, 2023

National Green Tribunal pulls up Haryana for failing to control sewage overflow on National Highway-19

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The National Green Tribunal has pulled up the state of Haryana over its failure to take remedial measures for controlling the sewage overflow on National Highway-19.

The Bench, headed by NGT Chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel, observed that the state authorities had failed in upholding the citizen’s right to clean environment.

On January 7, 2020, a factual and action taken report was sought by the Court from the District Magistrate, Faridabad and the Haryana State PCB, with reference to the allegation that sewage from Seekri village in Faridabad District in Haryana was overflowing on the service road and on the stretch of Delhi-Agra Highway.

The flooded road was hampering the movement of vehicles, as also emitting foul smell, leading to water-borne diseases and accidents on the Highway. Pipeline and drains get frequently choked due to dumping of garbage in the open drain, leading to overflowing of sewage on the service road, noticed the Tribunal.

The matter was then considered on September 7, 2020, in the light of a report of the State PCB dated September 1, 2020, to the effect that temporary measures were adopted to tackle the situation, while permanent measures were planned.

The Tribunal directed the State PCB to ensure further action in coordination with the concerned local body and the Development Department and file an action taken report.

The State PCB filed its report on July 5, 2021, stating that the Executive Engineer, Panchayati Raj, Faridabad has sent an estimate for requisite construction. Necessary funds have been sanctioned by the Additional Chief Secretary, Development and Panchayat Department, Haryana on May 10, 2021. Tenders have been floated and the work is likely to be completed by March 31, 2022, it added.

“It is seen that the progress in the matter can hardly be held to be satisfactory. The overflowing of sewage from the village depicted a clear failure of the authorities in upholding the right of the citizens to clean and save the environment. The issue was highlighted in the media more than one year back and the Tribunal passed the first order on January 7, 2020.

“It is difficult to accept that for one-and-a-half year, even the issue of tender could not be finalised, even though the matter was of such great urgency. The plea that there was a single tender or no person was available to execute the work shows a lack of awareness about the concern for the environment. No prohibition against the award of work to a single tenderer has been brought to our notice. There is also no prohibition of the work of such an urgent nature being executed departmentally”, the Tribunal said.

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“Giving long timelines without any firm commitment is also a matter of concern and failure of the concerned authorities in the matter. A case is made out for taking coercive measures against the concerned officers for such serious failure and attitude. However, by way of last opportunity, we grant three months’ time for meaningful remedial measures, failing which the Tribunal will be left with no other option except to proceed personally against the Additional Chief Secretary, Development and Panchayat Department, Haryana, who should be in a position to remedy the situation.

“Let the Additional Chief Secretary, Development and Panchayat Department, Haryana remain present in person via video conference with compliance status on the next date,” the Court ordered and fixed the matter for hearing on December 7, 2021.

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