NGT takes suo moto cognizance of poor water quality across state of Karnataka

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) took Suo Motu cognizance of the issue of poor water quality of river across the State of Karnataka.

The Petition is registered suo-moto on the basis of the news item appearing in the daily newspaper dated 10.01.2024.

As per the said news item, the recent water quality analysis of 12 rivers in the State reveal that nine were having stretches with poor water quality (class D). The 12 rivers monitored under the central government’s National Water Monitoring Programme (NWMP) include Arkavathi Lakshmantirtha, Tungabhadra, Bhadra, Cauvery, Kabini, Kagina, Krishna, Shimsha, Bhima, Netravati and Tunga. 

The cause of poor quality is stated to be rapid population growth, immense pressure from urbanisation, or inaction of authorities concerned. Under the programme, water quality of these rivers is monitored at 38 locations and out of these, at 19 locations, water quality has been found to be under class ‘D’, suitable only for propagation of wildlife and fisheries. 

The water quality report released by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) for November 2023 showed that the biological oxygen demand of some of these stretches is as high as 8 mg/l, the fecal coliform level at some stations have reached 2,60,000 MPN/100 ML and total coliform bacteria has increased to 2,80,000 MPN/100 ml.

The news item also revealed that the number of industries along these river stretches have gone up. The cities are discharging untreated sewage and the concerned Board/Authorities have failed to treat sewage generated by the city and even the sample collection protocols are not being followed.   

The news item raises substantial issue relating to compliance of provisions of the Scheduled enactments.   

"Power of the Tribunal to take up the matter in suo-motu exercise of power has been recognized by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the matter of “Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai vs. Ankita Sinha & Ors.” reported in 2021 SCC Online SC 897."

Hence, the Principal Bench of Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Dr. A Senthil Vel impleaded the following as respondents in the matter: 

i. Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) through its Member Secretary.

ii. Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) through its Chairman. 

iii. Deputy Commissioner and District Magistrate, Bangaluru. 

iv. State of Karnataka through the Chief Secretary. 

Since the matter relates to the Southern Zone Bench, Chennai, therefore , the Bench transferred the matter to the Southern Zone Bench for appropriate further action. Office is directed by the NGT to transfer the original record to the Southern Zone Bench and the matter is listed on 08.04.2024.