17 towns along Ganga declared open-defecation free: Bihar government to NGT

Source: newindianexpress.com

NEW DELHI: The Bihar government told the National Green Tribunal on Wednesday that 17 towns along the Ganga river in the state have been declared open-defecation free (ODF).

Five towns are currently in the process of being declared ODF, it said.

In an affidavit filed before NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, the state government said that 17 towns have been declared ODF.

They are: Barh, Hajipur, Sonepur, Mokama, Bakhtiyarpur, Teghra, Maner, Barhiya, Manihari, Buxar, Naugachia, Danapur, Dighwara, Jamalpur, Munger, Begusarai and Bhagalpur It said the work was in process in Patna, Chhapra, Sultanganj, Khagariya and Kahalgaon.

With regard to liquid waste management, the state government informed the tribunal that a total 26 sewerage infrastructure projects sanctioned at a cost of Rs 5,089.82 crore which are at different stages of implementation in various towns — Patna (11 projects), Begusarai, Munger, Hajipur, Mokama, Sultanganj, Naugachia, Barh, Bhagalpur, Sonepur, Chhapra, Khagaria, Bakhtiyarpur, Maner, Danapur and Phulwarishariff.

These projects will facilitate in treatment of 616.5 MLD of sewage through creation/rehabilitation of Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs), sewerage network and allied Interception and diversion works, it said.

The affidavit was filed after NGT’s May 29 order directing Bihar, West Bengal and Jharkhand to monitor Ganga cleaning and file report.

The report said 14 projects are being implemented include Beur STP, Beur Sewerage Network, Saidpur STP & Adjoining Network, Saidpur Sewerage Network, Karmalichak STP, Karmalichak Sewerage Network, Pahari STP, Pahari Zone-IV A (South), Pahari Zone V, Sultanganj, Mokama, Sonepur, Barh and Naugachhiya.

Letter of acceptance has been issued for four projects — Digha, Kankarbagh, Bakhtiyarpur and Maner while seven projects — Hajipur, Bhagalpur, Begusarai, Chhapra, Danapur, Phulwarishariff and Khagaria — are under tendering stages.

Tender for 1 project (Munger) has been floated and a revised estimate of a project in Buxar is under process.

There are 118 ‘Nallas’ in the Ganga towns, of which 111 ‘Nallas’ have been screened and the remaining are in progress, said the report, filed through advocate Balendu Shekhar.

On the issue of plastic ban, it said that 100 per cent single use plastic (Plastic Carry Bags) have been banned in all the urban local bodies in state of Bihar.

“Penalty provisions have been made for involvement in production, distribution, trading, storage, sale of plastic carry bags irrespective of its thickness and sizes in the respective urban local bodies Plastic Waste Management Byelaws, 2018.

A total of 38,283 shops or establishment have been raided and fine for Rs 18,99,495 has been collected and 8,085.21 Kg of plastic carry bags were also seized,” the state government said.

The report said that in the context of Bihar, the polluted stretches are — Ganga, Punpun, Ramrekha, Sikrahana, Sirsa and Parmar.

It also told the tribunal that as per its direction an environmental compensation of Rs 25 lakh has been deposited.

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.

The green panel had said people drank and bathed in the river with reverence, without knowing that it may adversely affect their health.

Ganga Cleaning: NGT Junks Bihar Govt’s Plea Seeking Review of Penalty Imposed on It

Source: news18.com

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.

Jharkhand to pay Rs10-cr as ‘performance guarantee’ to anti-pollution body

Source: hindustantimes.com

Following the direction of National Green Tribual (NGT), the state government is set to pay Rs10 crore as performance guarantee to the central pollution control board (CPCB) with assurance of lowering down biochemical oxygen demand below 3mg/litre in seven rivers’ stretches in three years, officials said.

The NGT recently asked the state government to deposit the said amount to the central pollution board as performance guarantee so that the issue could be dealt with serious efforts in a time bound manner.

“Jharkhand is not alone. The performance guarantee was asked from all states having polluted river. The NGT has fixed the rate of guarantee on the basis of pollution level in rivers. Since Jharkhand has seven stretches of seven rivers, the state was asked to pay Rs 10 crore as performance guarantee,” said Jharkhand state pollution control board (JSPCB) chairman AK Rastogi. Rastogi, however, claims Jharkhand stands at four in the river pollution category, which means pollution level is less in rivers of the state.

The stretches of seven rivers Garga, Sankh, Subarnarekha, Damodaro, Jumar, Konar and Nalkari – would go under rejuvenation drive in next three years. The JSPCB has submitted its action plan to the CPCB suggesting ways to reduce pollution level in the stretches.

According to the action plan report, highest BOD level at 8.4mg/litre was found at 10-km stretch of Sankh river, while 6.2mg/litre was recorded at eight kilometre stretch of Garga river along Telmuchu. BOD level at 3.4mg/litre to 10mg/litre was found at 120-km stretch of Subarnarekha river, while 3.9mg/litre BOD found at on 12-km stretch of Damodar near Phusro, Bhandaridah and Dhanbad. Similarly, the BOD level from 3.3mg/litre to 3.8 mg/litre was found on stretches of Jumar, Konar and Nalkari. “We have been given three-year timeline to bring down the BOD level from the stretches below 3mg/litre,” said JSPCB member secretary Rajiv Lochan Bakshi.

Experts say BOD causes a serious threat to the aquatic life due to the depletion of dissolved oxygen. They blame large-scale mining operations in the state for river pollution.

A JSPCB official said about 130 million litres of industrial effluents and 65 million litres of untreated domestic water are released to Damodar drainage system.

The JSPCB suggested hordes of measures in its action plan to reduce the pollution in rivers.

The measures suggested for industries are setting up effluent treatment plants, adaption of zero liquid discharge concept by industries, tailing ponds management plans such as dewatering and drying, water recovery and re-use and discharge legislation compliance.

Pollution abatement measures at domestic source suggested under the action plan included sewerage systems to capture raw sewage flowing into the rivers though open drains and diverting them for treatment and setting up sewage treatment plants for treating diverted sewage.

New policy set to redraw Bihar’s sand mine map

Source: hindustantimes.com

The state government is drafting the Bihar State Sand Mining Policy 2019, a move required to incorporate the new rules of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change. The new policy will also be tailored after taking into account the problems faced by the state government while handling leased out sand ghats in the past five years.

The last time a Bihar sand mining policy was made was in 2013. After Jharkhand was carved out of Bihar in 2000, the latter has been left with only a few commercially valuable minerals. Besides stone quarrying, royalty from sand mining gives the state government a handsome income. The state mines and geology department has set a target of earning Rs 900 crore in 2019.

Sand mining has been a controversial issue in Bihar. Illegal sand mining has led to major crimes and gang wars in the state.

On June 2, chief minister Nitish Kumar reshuffled the portfolio of various ministers, including mines and geology minister Vinod Kumar Singh, who was replaced by Brajkishore Bind. Sources said that the CM was taking an interest in vetting the new sand mining policy and suggesting changes in it.

Principal secretary, mines and geology department, Harjot Kaur Bamhrah, said that the last policy was of a five-year term, and so there was a need to draft a new policy. “The policy is in the draft stage and a presentation will be made to the higher authorities for vetting,” she said.

Sand ‘districts’ to be redrawn

Sources said that in the new sand mining policy, the mines and geology department, in order to drive up earnings, proposes to increase the number of sand mining units in Bihar. At present, out of 38 districts, the department has divided the state into 25 districts, according to mining units of sand.

“Districts such as Patna, Bhopur, and Saran are clubbed as one unit. Aurangabad and Rohtas are another unit. And Lakhisarai and Jamui are yet another unit. This has been done for mining purpose,” said a source.

However, under the new draft policy, there is a proposal to cut the sand mining ‘districts’ number to 15, but increase the sand mining sites within each unit. “Suppose a district has seven rivers, mining permission at each river will be given to different parties,” they added.

This would give an opportunity to small players to enter the river sand mining business and break the monopoly of big players, said the sources.

Normally, when a lessee gets sand mining licence for a district comprising many rivers, the mining company does not turn its attention to the small river(s) in the district, and gets busy with mining at the big river where the sand yield is more. “The smaller rivers are neglected in the districts, reducing the earnings of the department,” said sources, adding that allotment of more sites and to multiple mining companies would increase the earnings of the department.

Greener mining rules

The new sand mining policy would also incorporate the changes in environment laws, as proposed by the Centre. “The new policy will include the new guidelines of NGT and the union ministry of environment, forest and climate change. The guidelines of NGT are very exhaustive; work is on to incorporate them in the new draft policy,” said a source.

Principal secretary Bamhrah said that the presentation of the new policy would be made to the new mines and geology minister and later approved by the state cabinet. “Hopefully, the new sand mining policy will be in place in the next two months,” she said.