Bhartesh Singh Thakur
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, December 1
The National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) executive committee has observed that efforts of the Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) in checking pollution in the Ghaggar have been inadequate.
In its report on October 1, which came up for hearing on November 22 before the NGT, the committee pointed out that the HSPCB “was not regularly monitoring all STPs” (Solid Waste Treatment Plants) in the Ghaggar’s catchment area.
It also added the HSPCB inspected six industries from June to August and all were found violating norms. Of these, the closure order has been recommended against four industries and re-sampling would be carried out in the remaining two.
The committee, led by Justice Pritam Pal (retd), said the “inspection done by HSPCB is very less”. “It has to increase its surveillance by surprise checking through Environment Project Squad and must ensure that every industry located in the catchment area of the Ghaggar be visited at least once in a quarter,” it said. It also recommended installation and commissioning of irrigation schemes by the Department of Irrigation to utilise the treated sewage of existing STPs by March 31, 2021.
“The Department of Rural Development and Panchayat has no proposal to install STPs to treatment sewage of villages having discharge more than 300 KLD,” said the committee, recommending that the HSPCB should take up the matter with department concerned to prepare a proposal to install STPs for such villages in Phase-1 and for those having discharge less than 300 KLD in Phase-2.
Of the 34 locations analysed by the HSPCB in the Ghaggar catchment area, ground water quality of four had been found polluted. “The HSPCB shall cap these locations and a display board mentioning that ‘water not fit for drinking’ may be placed at the contaminated sources,” said the committee.
The NGT, in its order dated November 22, has set December 31, 2020, as the deadline to install STPs in Punjab, Haryana, HP and Chandigarh, after which a compensation of Rs 10 lakh per month per STP would be imposed.
It ordered the state pollution control boards to act against polluters and local bodies in the catchment area were directed to ensure that solid waste was not dumped into the river or its tributaries. This aspect would also now be monitored by the committee.
The next date of hearing is January 17. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had taken suo motu notice of a news item published in The Tribune on May 12, 2014, “Stench grips Mansa’s sacred Ghaggar”. On the reference of the NHRC, the NGT took over the case in 2016.
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