In an unprecedented move, the National Green Tribunal today said it would itself inspect the most polluted parts of Ganga between Haridwar and Kanpur to get first hand information on the river. The decision assumes significance as usually the green panel appoints a panel of experts to inspect a site and give a comprehensive ground report to it.
NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said it has been hearing the Ganga cleaning case on day-to-day basis but there was still no definitive data on the quality and quantity of pollutants being discharged into the river.
“In the interest of expeditious disposal of this case and to bring the controversy to end, it will be in the interest of justice to have site inspection of most polluting parts of Ganga in segment B of Phase-I. “Therefore, we direct the state governments (Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand), Environment Ministry, Ministry of Water Resources, Central Pollution Control Bord, Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board, UP Jal Nigam to make all preparatory steps for inspection at Kanpur at the first instance,” the bench said.
The tribunal said the NGT Registrar General would communicate the date and time when it would carry out the inspection. Besides Justice Kumar, the bench which is hearing the Ganga case comprises Justices Jawad Rahim, R S Rathore and Expert Members B S Sajwan, Ajay A Deshpande and Nagin Nanda.
The tribunal had earlier said that excessive extraction of water between Haridwar and Unnao in Ganga floodplains was a serious issue and should be immediately stopped. It had said the water which was being diverted into various canals should be regulated so as to help maintain a minimum flow of the river.
In a detailed report covering various aspects of contamination in the river, CPCB had informed the NGT that the Ganga, spanning a distance of 543 km between Haridwar and Kanpur, was affected by 1,072 seriously polluting industries which were releasing heavy metals and pesticides.
At present, 823.1 million litres per day of untreated sewage and 212.42 MLD of industrial effluents flow into the river, while three of the four monitored Sewage Treatment Plants were non-compliant with the set standards, it said.
The green panel has divided the work of cleaning the river in different segments — Gomukh to Haridwar (Phase-I), Haridwar to Unnao (termed as segment B of Phase-I), Unnao to border of Uttar Pradesh, border of Uttar Pradesh to border of Jharkhand and border of Jharkhand to Bay of Bengal.