New Delhi [India], September 18 (ANI): The National Green Tribunal (NGT) directed Maharashtra to deposit a sum of Rs 1 crore as interim compensation with the district collector for restoration of water quality of the river Trimbakeshwar in Maharashtra's Nasik district.
The NGT asked the state Chief Secretary to personally look into the matter and take remedial action against erring officers in the light of binding orders of the Supreme Court and the Tribunal.
"We also direct the State of Maharashtra to deposit a sum of Rs one crore as interim compensation with the Collector of the District which may be utilized for the restoration of water quality of the river Trimbakeshwar, District Nasik," said NGT bench headed by its chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel.
It also directed the Maharashtra Chief Secretary to remain present in person by video conferencing on the next date along with an action taken report and listed the matter for further consideration on January 10, 2022.
The bench was hearing an application filed by Kiran Ramdas Kamble and others seeking to take action for failure of the Trimbakeshwar Municipal Council and other concerned authorities of Maharashtra in preventing discharge of Municipal waste into the river which joins Godavari in violation of the judgement of the Supreme Court, in spite of at least four orders of NGT in the last two years and also general orders in other cases.
The Tribunal had directed the Secretary, Urban Development (Local Bodies), Maharashtra to ensure preventing sewage from being discharged into the river, taking necessary measures for the proper functioning of the Sewage Treatment Plant (STP).
The NGT noted that there is no compliance in terms of orders of the Supreme Court or of this Tribunal of taking action against the erring officers for violation of law which is a criminal offence or for preventing the continuing pollution of water or recovering compensation in terms of order of this Tribunal dated January 24, 2020, passed in the presence of the Chief Secretary, Maharashtra.
It said that there is no explanation for such gross dereliction of duty by the authorities in Maharashtra resulting in continuous violation of the binding statutory/constitutional and statutory obligations including the judgment of the Supreme Court and orders of this Tribunal.
In view of the seriousness of the situation and long continuing failure and neglect by the State authorities, the NGT directed the Maharashtra Chief Secretary to personally look into the matter and take remedial action against erring officers in the light of binding orders of the Supreme Court and this Tribunal.
The NGT also pulled up Municipal Council, Nasik for making excuses like lack of adequate funds due to COVID. The NGT said that a pollution-free environment is a fundamental right, the plea of absence of funds is not sustainable.
"Instead of being just for inaction against pollution, the situation calls for more stringent action to control the pollution in the interest of public health," the NGT noted, adding that the stand of the authorities of Maharashtra is unfortunate.
The bench called it as showing a lack of sensitivity to public duties and respect for binding law and orders of the Supreme Court and this Tribunal.
"Continuing violation of law, resulting in the denial of the right of the citizens to clean environment and also potential for damage to public health is against the rule of law guaranteed under the Constitution. The inaction of the authorities is like saying we do not respect law, crime is permissible and we are party to it," the NGT said.
"Water pollution results in deaths and diseases. Preventing it is an important obligation and is just like preventing any other crime, to protect the health of the citizens. Water pollution also results in depriving living creatures with drinking water," the NGT said. (ANI)