Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding pollution of Ramgarh lake and rivers Ami, Rapti and Rohani, Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, 12/01/2021

  • 12/01/2021

Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of Meera Shukla Vs Municipal Corporation, Gorakhpur & Others dated 12/01/2021.

The issue for consideration is the remedial action for contamination of water bodies and ground water, specially Ramgarh Lake, Ami River, Rapti River and Rohani River in and around District Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh. The matter has been pending for the last more than six years.

The NGT order dated August 23, 2018 noted that the allegation that Ramgarh Lake and the Ami, Rapti and Rohani Rivers in and around District Gorakhpur were severely polluted on account of discharge of untreated sewage and industrial effluents. It was also noted that the steps required to prevent contamination of water bodies and groundwater were not being taken. This was affecting the farmers and inhabitants, flora, fauna and ecology of area and causing degradation of the environment.  103 water bodies are under threat.

The bench of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice Sheo Kumar Singh expressed displeasure at the large scale non compliance by the concerned authorities in discharging their public duties. The  court said that the Chief Secretary, Uttar Pradesh should address the issue and take remedial action in the "interest of good governance and ethics of administration".

The NGT noted that an action plan has already been prepared for remediation of Ami and other rivers in 2019 and available on the website of the UPPCB. The same has been duly approved by the River Rejuvenation Committee of Uttar Pradesh in its meeting held on July 17, 2019. If it is so, the action needs to be taken promptly in accordance with the said plan, the order said. The execution of the plan has to be time bound and supported by the necessary budget.

Further, remedial action must be taken for restoration of the water bodies, abatement of pollution by the industries and the local bodies, enforcement of the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016, removing encroachments, disconnecting electricity connection of illegally operating industries. This should be overseen by the Chief Secretary by appropriate mechanism, apart from or alongwith a five member Committee comprising the Secretaries of Irrigation Department, Urban Development Department, Environment Department, CPCB and the UPPCB.

Only 6 out of 24 drains carrying untreated effluent to the river Tapti which meets river Ghagra which in turns goes to river Ganga have been tapped. The remaining 18 drains continue to discharge untreated sewage/effluent in river Rapti, the NGT noted.

The NGT directed the Oversight Committee to submit a report on the current water quality of Ami, Rapti and Ghagra and Ramgarh lake and reasons for delay in setting up  of CETP and accountability for delay among others. The Chief Secretary, Uttar Pradesh has been asked to oversee the execution of river rejuvenation plans for rivers Ami, Rapti, Rohani, Saryu and Ghagra - wherein the timelines for rejuvenation of different components must be fixed with necessary budgetary support and designating the authorities/officers responsible for it.