The National Green Tribunal has slammed municipalities in Uttar Pradesh for failing to manage discharge of untreated sewage water into the Ganga river saying it appears that "environment and public health do not fall on their priority list".
A bench headed by acting NGT Chairperson Justice Jawad Rahim refused to agree with the submission that 'nagar palikas' were facing financial crunch as the state government has not released any money.
"It appears that environment and public health do not fall on priority list of all these respondents...," the bench observed.
The counsel appearing for the municipalities of Mirzapur, Fatehpur, Chunar and Bhadohi told the bench that they have filed statement of the action taken and the reason for non compliance is that the state government has not released the funds.
"Be that as it may, we note it with regret that except procrastination of this proceedings on one pretext or other the 'nagar palikas' concerned have shown least regard regarding compliance of the direction of the tribunal and hence, we direct the commissioners and chief officers of each of the 'nagar palikas' together to be present on the next date of hearing with an affidavit sworn to detailing action taken for compliance to the direction issued by the tribunal or nature of compliance," the bench said.
The matter was listed for next hearing on July 27.
The tribunal had earlier asked the Uttar Pradesh government to reply why environmental compensation should not be slapped on it for its "intentional" non-compliance of statutory obligations regarding discharge of untreated sewage water into the Ganga.
While issuing a show cause notice to the state government, the NGT had earlier said "environment and public health does not fall in its priority list" as it was "undisputed" that no action was taken by the state pollution control board and municipal bodies to prepare an action plan on cleaning the river.
The UP Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) and municipal bodies of Mirzapur, Chunar, Bhadohi, Fatehpur, and Hastinapur were issued show cause notices asking why environmental compensation should not be imposed on them as they had failed to prepare the plan despite directions issued by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
The NGT was hearing a plea of the CPCB seeking directions to the UPPCB and the CEOs of these five municipal councils to "prepare a plan of action to clean river Ganga and water bodies, ground water and soil in a time-bound manner and recover the cost of preparation and execution of such plan of action from the polluters".
Advocate Balendu Shekhar, appearing for the CPCB, had said the respondents (UPPCB and five municipal councils) had failed to provide adequate sewage network and install sewage treatment plants for effective treatment of sewage discharged into the river.
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