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Posted at: Aug 12, 2018, 12:01 AM; last updated: Aug 12, 2018, 12:01 AM (IST)

Pollution in Ghaggar: NGT orders setting up of STF

Sushil Manav

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 10

Taking a suo motu cognisance of a report on pollution in Ghaggar river published in The Tribune, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the chief secretaries of Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh to constitute a special task force (STF) to clean the river.

In its order issued on August 7, the NGT has also called for a stern civil and criminal action against officials of the pollution control boards of these states for “shielding the violators”.

According to the order, the STFs shall comprise the District Magistrate, Superintendent of Police, Regional Officer of the State Pollution Control, Boards in the district concerned and a person who shall be nominated by the District Judge in every district in his capacity as the chairperson of the District Legal Services Authority.

The order also directs the setting up of STFs at the state level which would comprise the Chief Secretary, Environment Secretary, Secretary of Urban Development and the Secretary of Local Bodies.

The NGT has told the states to constitute the STFs within a month.

For ensuring the compliance of its order, the tribunal has also constituted an “executing committee” comprising Justice Pritam Pal, former judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, a senior Scientist from the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change and a senior engineer or scientist from the Central Pollution Control Board.

Justice Pritam Pal, who retired as Lokayukta, Haryana, would chair the panel, whose object would be to restore the standards of the river water quality. The committee, which has been asked to submit its interim report on or before January 31, 2019, might also consider the “need for getting organised health camps and need for providing clean drinking water for the inhabitants”.

The amicus curiae in the case Katyayani had described in her report as to how pungent odour and stink that emanates from the Ghaggar at Ratia in Fatehabad or nearby Mansa and Sardulgarh in Punjab has become nauseating and unbearable.

The report observed that in Ratia town in Fatehabad district, there was no water and only black colour effluents were flowing. Froth was floating on top of the stream along with plastics and other wastes.

Originating from the Shivaliks hills in Himachal Pradesh, the Ghaggar progresses from east to southward direction through several districts of Punjab and Haryana before moving towards Pakistan through Rajasthan.

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