The National Green Tribunal has directed the Uttarakhand government to submit within four weeks percentage-wise compliance report on steps taken by it to clean the River Ganga in the stretch between Gomukh and Haridwar.
A bench headed by acting NGT Chairperson Justice Jawad Rahim asked the state government to make a categoric statement about the stage of compliance rather than indicating what work was under progress.
The green panel has directed the state government to file the report of compliance by July 19.
“On behalf of State of Uttarakhand it is submitted that the compliance report filed by them indicates substantial compliance, however it is pointed out by the counsel Vijay Hansaria that various directions of the Tribunal are yet to be complied with in totality.
“The counsel on behalf of State of Uttarakhand, submits they require four weeks time to compile all the information and file to the satisfactory of the Tribunal. We accept his request and grant them time till July 19, 2018 for filing the report of compliance after serving copy in advance of 10 days to the counsel M C Mehta for examining it and file their response by the next date of hearing.
During the hearing, advocate Mehta, who has filed the plea for Ganga rejuvenation, pointed out that only one officer, S D Singh was deposing in all the affidavits whereas the directions refers to several other departments of the government.
He contended that in case of any default, appropriate action in accordance with law has to be taken and therefore one person deposing affidavits in respect of all other departments is “not in the real spirit of the directions of the tribunal”.
The Uttarakhand government, however, submitted that Singh was appointed as nodal officer and the State will be bound by his statement.
Noting the submissions, the tribunal said,” submissions taken on record and we make it clear that in case of any default the affidavit filed by the said officer shall be construed as the affidavit filed by the secretary of the state concerned. He will be exposed to all actions in person.”
The NGT had earlier rapped the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) for not filing compliance report on the steps taken by the Centre and the UP and Uttarakhand governments to clean the river Ganga in the stretch between Gomukh and Unnao.
The green panel, in a detailed judgement, had passed a slew of directions to rejuvenate Ganga, declaring as ‘No Development Zone’ an area of 100 metres from the edge of the river between Haridwar and Unnao and prohibiting dumping of waste within 500 metres from the river.
The tribunal had said the government has spent over Rs 7,000 crore in two years to clean the Ganga, which still remains a “serious environmental issue”.
The order, running into 543 pages, had said “till the demarcation of floodplains and identification of permissible and non-permissible activities by the state government of this judgement, we direct that 100 metres from the edge of the river would be treated as no development/construction zone between Haridwar to Unnao in UP.”
‘No-development zones’ are areas where no construction including commercial or residential buildings can come up.
It also imposed a complete prohibition on disposal of municipal solid waste, e-waste or bio-medical waste on the floodplains or into the river and its tributaries.
Regarding shifting of tanneries located in Jajmau cluster in Kanpur, the tribunal had sought an action plan from the leather units, failing which “the UP government shall be duty bound to close the tanneries and shift the same to Banthar, Unnao or any other developed site which it considers appropriate.”
The tribunal reiterated its earlier order of ban on mechanical mining in Ganga and said “no in-stream mechanical mining is permitted and even the mining on the floodplain should be semi-mechanical and preferably more manual”.