The Bombay High Court asked the Maharashtra government to apprise it of the steps it proposes to take to curb pollution of rivers in the state.
A bench of Justices AS Oka and RI Chagla sought a detailed list of the governments proposed steps on an affidavit, observing that it was the state’s constitutional obligation to protect its rivers and improve the quality of river waters.
The bench issued the direction while hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by an NGO, Vanashakti, seeking an interim order to the state to formulate a policy to protect its rivers.
The petitioner alleged that though the government had issued a resolution proposing a plan to protect its rivers in 2009, the same had undergone some modifications, allowing construction of resorts, hotels, etc. along river beds or near river fronts.
It also told the court that in February 2015, the Central Pollution Control Board had published a study stating that 49 rivers in Maharashtra were severely polluted.
The bench also noted that on a previous hearing in 2015, the high court had asked the state whether it proposed to come up with a new, comprehensive water policy to protect rivers but the state was yet to inform the court of its decision.
“It is a constitutional obligation of the state government to take all possible steps to control pollution of its rivers and to improve their water quality.
“It has been brought to our notice that construction of resorts, lodgings etc. does not only pose a danger to the river bed but, also pose a risk of effluent related diseases,” the bench said.
“We proceed with the assumption that since the state has failed to inform the court of its decision, it doesn’t intend to come up with a new policy.
“Therefore, this court can direct the state to fulfil its constitutional duty,” it said.
The bench directed the state to file the affidavit by June 22.