Expressing serious concern over pollution in Godavari River in view of the forthcoming Kumbh Mela in Nashik, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday asked the Maharashtra government to inform it within a week what contingency plans it had formulated to clean the river water.
A bench headed by Justice Abhay Oka asked the apex committee for the Kumbh Mela, headed by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, to call an urgent meeting and formulate contingency plans for cleaning Godavari River on a war footing.
The mela is scheduled to held between July 14 and September 25, this year in Nashik.
“If this committee does not devise any such plans or if the plans formulated by it are not to the satisfaction of the high court, then we shall ask another committee headed by the Divisional Commissioner (of Nashik) to draw contingency plans. The state would then be directed to implement them,” the bench observed.
The HC has asked the government to convene a meeting of the apex committee and submit minutes thereof on tackling pollution in Godavari by next Tuesday, following which it would pass necessary orders.
The court was hearing an application filed by Rajesh Pandit and Nishikant Pagare on Godavari pollution.
The judges observed that lakhs of pilgrims would visit Nashik during the Kumbh Mela for a period of one year and most of them would take a dip in Godavari. The river water is already polluted and during the mela it would get further polluted and hence, there was an urgent need to draw up contingency plans for cleaning the river, it said.
Counsel for the petitioners Pravatak Pathak argued that bathing in Godavari River should be banned unless the water was cleaned.
According to the petitioners, the water, when it was tested while filing the PIL, had biological oxygen demand (BOD) of 30 parts per million, which meant that it was polluted. The ideal BOD should be below 5 ppm which makes the water fit for consumption, particularly drinking, he contended.