NGT panel to study river pollution

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has constituted an expert committee, headed by an IIT-Mumbai faculty , to inspect the extent and specific causes of pollution in Mula, Mutha rivers from sources of discharge of untreated sewage in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad areas.

The objective is to have acceptable scientific material and data on the pollution of the river and connected irrigation canal, the tribunal said, while raising concern over the “casual statements“ made by authorities, including the PCMC, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) and the irrigation department. The committee has to file its report by September 1when the matter is posted for the next hearing.

The bench of Justice Jawad Rahim and member Ajay A Deshpande was responding to a plea by the Shewalewadi gram panchayat sarpanch and others highlighting the severe environmental damage caused and danger to the health and survival of the local population due to release of untreated sewage into the two rivers.“The concerns raised by the applicants are serious in nature,“ the bench said.

A PCMC additional municipal commissioner will be the nodal officer for executing the tribunal’s order while the PMC and PCMC have been directed to provide all necessary assistance and logistic support to the expert panel. The MPCB has been directed to provide technical assistance in the matter. The IIT faculty to lead the panel will be at liberty to take assistance of other experts, as heshe may require, the bench ordered.

The tribunal had earlier sought affidavits and responses from the PMC, PCMC, MPCB, irrigation departments and other respondents named in the application. “There is material on record from which it is evident that untreated sewage from various sources in territorial jurisdiction of PMC and PCMC is being released into Mula-Mutha river and irrigation canal,“ it said.

Referring to the affidavits and responses by the respondents, the tribunal observed: “Respondent no 2 (PCMC) has filed a statement, stating that except two villages other areas are covered with drainage system and also grey water is being released. There are also several statements, which prima facie indicate, are not supported by any acceptable scientific material or any data which could be verified.“

The bench further said: “It is observed from the affidavit of MPCB that cause and effect claimed by the applicants have not been addressed on technical grounds. The irrigation department’s reply is cryptic and does not disclose any material fact. We are, therefore, disturbed by the casual statements made.“

“Considering imminent danger as consequence of lapses on part of these authorities in releasing untreated sewage into the canal, it is essential that we get an independent report from the (expert) committee, which shall indicate and record fact-finding,“ the bench said while constituting the panel.

The bench had directed PMC commissioner on May 27 to stop pumping of untreated sewage into Mula-Mutha river and its tributaries unless the same was treated to the required standards through the method provided. The tribunal then observed that it was at loss to understand the PMC’s stand that the civic body’s responsibility was only to supply water and it gives water to the agriculture fields that can not be hampered.

Source : TOI