New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal has junked a plea to review its order imposing a fine of Rs 25 lakh on the Bihar government for inaction over continued damage to the river Ganga.
The green panel on May 29 had levied the penalty on Bihar, noting that there is practically no progress in cleaning the Ganga as not a single sewage infrastructure project has been completed.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said the Bihar government’s action plan lacked concrete measures to combat pollution, including punitive and remedial action against polluters.
“We have considered the review application and do not find any reason as to why we should interfere with the impugned order as prayed for by the applicant state. The facts and circumstances set out do not satisfy with requirements contained in the directions referred to in the impugned order as well as the orders preceding those,” the bench, also comprising justices S P Wangdi and K Ramakrishnan, said in a recent order.
The case relates to the cleaning of river Ganga, considering its immense environmental relevance to the country as heavy pollution and contamination has rendered the river water unfit for bathing, let alone drinking.
It refused to agree with the Bihar government’s submission that the action taken by the state had not been placed elaborately before the tribunal.
“In any case, setting up of the sewerage network and construction of the sewage treatment plants is only one of the several actions to be taken by the states…
“It was in these circumstances that the tribunal had observed that the response of the state applicant and other states was deficient and laggardly, leading to the direction for payment of interim compensation,” the bench said, adding that there was “no merit” in the plea filed by the state government.
While imposing the fine on Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal, the NGT had also said that discharge of effluents is a criminal offence and directed the Uttar Pradesh government to prohibit any polluting industrial activity instead of partially allowing it.
Even a drop of pollution in Ganga is a matter of concern and the attitude of all authorities should be stringent to protect the river, the NGT had earlier said while seeking a concrete action plan on the issue.
It had asked the National Mission for Clean Ganga to take remedial action so that assistance of a suitable person is provided to this tribunal with precise information, failing which the tribunal may consider coercive measures against it.
The tribunal also asked the states concerned to take the matter seriously and assist the bench with precise information either through senior officers or through counsel. The green panel had said people drank and bathed in the river with reverence, without knowing that it may adversely affect their health.