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Posted at: Nov 8, 2019, 6:51 AM; last updated: Nov 8, 2019, 6:51 AM (IST)

Chenab turns into dumping yard

Planned STPs not constructed; untreated sewage pollutes river
Chenab turns into dumping yard
Garbage lying near the Chenab in Akhnoor. Tribune Photo: Inderjeet Singh

Sumit Hakhoo

Tribune News Service

Jammu, November 7

In clear violation of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) directions, Chenab, one of the longest river systems in South Asia is being dumped with tonnes of untreated sewage and solid waste generated by habitations and towns along its course as successive governments in erstwhile J&K state overlooked plans to establish sewerage treatment plants (STPs).

Akhnoor town in Jammu district and habitations along the river in Reasi, Ramban and Doda districts are worst polluters as unabated disposal of waste and untreated sewage is directly dumped in the river at various places.

Even debris generated by four-laning of the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway is being discarded by contractors.

As per the available details, 12-km stretch downstream from Jia Pota to Pargwal does not meet the standards of norms of classification of streams under designated best use (DBU). The data is available due to the monitoring by the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) but in hilly districts condition is worse as there is no monitoring or regular studies being carried out.

Proposals to construct mini- sewerage treatment plants (STPs) as per the directions of National Green Tribunal (NGT) along the polluted stretch of the river, especially in Akhnoor town, was not taken seriously by the administrative setup in the erstwhile J&K state leaving water bodies vulnerable.

“Years of non-serious approach of planners has left Chenab vulnerable which is being exploited for hydro power projects but nothing has been done to stop pollution mainly from habitations. Not a single functional STP is there along the river system”, said Neha Uttam, an environmental activist who runs NGO Disha.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has identified nine stretches of different rivers in J&K UT, which are vulnerable. Five stretches in Jammu region and four in Kashmir.

Romesh Gupta, Chief Executive Officer, Urban Local Bodies (Akhnoor), said, “A project report for STPs has been formulated and nod for construction of a treatment plant will be given soon by the UT administration”. However, Gupta did not elaborate further saying he was attending an official meeting.

Surprisingly, long before the September 2014 floods, which ravaged the state, two comprehensive detailed project reports (DPRs) of nearly Rs 3,000 crore for the phase -wise channelisation and protecting Tawi and Chenab were prepared and submitted to the Central Government for funding. Nobody knows what happened to those plans.

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