The National Green Tribunal has asked the Uttar Pradesh government to reply within a week 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.
A bench headed by acting Chairperson Justice Jawad Rahim noted that despite its December 2016 order, the parties have not filed their replies.
“Member Secretary of the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB), Commissioner and Executive Officers, Mayor, Chairman and Head of the municipality and the concerned Secretary of UP to show cause why they be not directed to pay environmental compensation for non-compliance of the directions issue to them earlier.
“Further to show cause why the tribunal should not direct prosecution of all these respondents in accordance with the law,” the bench said while posting the matter for May 16.
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 UPPCB and municipal bodies to prepare an action plan on cleaning the river.
The 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.
“At this stage, we are satisfied that non-compliance to the directions contained in the order dated October 9, 2015 is intentional and without any sufficient cause. Furthermore, the non-compliance is a matter which has to be viewed seriously. Nothing prevented the respondents – authorities, corporations and bodies to approach the CPCB and put forward their difficulties, if any, and get the same resolved.
“It appears that environment and public health does not fall on priority list of all these respondents. Consequently, we issue notice to show cause to the Member Secretary of UPPCB, Commissioner and Executive Officers, Mayor, Chairman and head of the municipality respondents and Secretary of Uttar Pradesh to show cause why they be not directed to pay environmental compensation for non-compliance of the directions,” the bench had said.
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.