The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday passed a slew of directions to rejuvenate the Ganga. It declared as ‘No-Development Zone’ an area of 100 metres from the edge of the river between Haridwar and Unnao and prohibited the dumping of waste within 500 metres from the river.
A bench of the NGT also declared that a penalty of ₹50,000 as environment compensation charge would be imposed on anyone who dumped waste in the river.
The NGT directed the Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand governments to formulate guidelines for religious activities on the ghats of the Ganga or its tributaries.
Giving its verdict on a 1985 PIL of noted environment activist M. C. Mehta — which was transferred to the NGT from the Supreme Court in 2014 — a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar noted that all authorities concerned should complete various projects including setting up of a sewage treatment plant and cleaning drains within two years.
The tribunal said the Uttar Pradesh government should be “duty-bound” to shift tanneries within six weeks from Jajmau in Kanpur to leather parks in Unnao or any other place it considered appropriate.
It appointed a supervisory committee, headed by secretary, Water Resources Ministry, and comprising IIT professors and officials from the Uttar Pradesh government to oversee the implementation of the directions passed in its 543-page verdict.
The NGT asked the committee to submit reports at regular intervals.
It said the concept of zero liquid discharge and online monitoring of affluents should not be applied to industrial units.
All industrial units falling in the catchment area of the river should be stopped from indiscriminate extraction of groundwater.
The tribunal had heard the arguments of the Central and Uttar Pradesh governments, the pollution control boards and various other stakeholders for almost 18 months before reserving the judgment on May 31.
The panel has divided the work of cleaning the river in different segments — Gomukh to Haridwar (Phase-I), Haridwar to Unnao (termed segment B of Phase-I), Unnao to border of Uttar Pradesh, border of Uttar Pradesh to border of Jharkhand and border of Jharkhand to Bay of Bengal.
It has already delivered the verdict in December 2015 with regard to the first phase between Gomukh and Haridwar.
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