Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding remedial action for abatement of pollution of river Ghaggar, 16/03/2021

Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of Stench Grips Mansa's Sacred Ghaggar River dated 16/03/2021. The issue for consideration was the remedial action for abatement of pollution of river Ghaggar.

The NGT in its order March 16, 2021 noted that the recommendations of the Committee with respect to further action by the states of Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and UT Chandigarh need to be acted upon with regard to setting up and maintaining treatment plants, use of treated water, use of sludge and septage management, in relation to industries, installation of STPs/treatment facilities in hotels/ashrams and dharmshalas, water quality monitoring of the river and its tributaries, maintenance of environmental flow, action against identified polluters, law violators and officers responsible for failure and for vigorous monitoring.

The concerned states also need to take remedial action for disposal of biomedical waste, compliance of Solid Waste Management (SWM) Rules, 2016, preparation of maps and zoning of flood plains, mining activity under supervision of the concerned authorities and in-situ remediation. The STPs need to be duly maintained and comply with the faecal coliform standards also. The NGT said that from the report of the Monitoring Committee, it could be seen that there were still huge gaps in capacity and functioning of the STPs, CETPs as well as the ETPs, reuse of treated water for irrigation, preventing dumping of solid waste, industrial pollution, preventing direct discharge of pollution in the drains and the rivers, irrigation scheme for using treated sewage water, in situ remediation of drains, maintaining e-flow of rivers and septage management.

There was need to set up CCTV cameras, more monitoring stations, creating awareness and organizing health check-ups, apart from other administrative measures, as suggested by the Committee. This required sustained efforts at different levels of the administration, local bodies, district administration and of the state. The ownership of the issue should be taken over by the respective Chief Secretaries, who may, having regard to seriousness of the issue, affecting health and environment, personally monitor progress of compliance at least once in a month and also evolve an appropriate administrative mechanism to handle the grim situation.

The River Rejuvenation Committees (RRCs) headed by Environment Secretaries in all the states/UTs have already been directed to prepare and monitor execution of action plans for the polluted river stretches on a continuous basis.

The RRCs of concerned states thus should accordingly monitor execution of action plans for Ghaggar river, in continuation of 7th report of the Monitoring Committee - subject to overall oversight of the respective Chief Secretaries. The Chief Secretaries while reviewing the status of various issues must focus on timely completion of the ongoing works, the NGT order said.