National Green Tribunal

National Green Tribunal: In an original application against the discharge of sewage into river Ganga and Yamuna and the consequential pollution in reference to the Kumbh Mela which is to be organized in 2024-25, Prakash Shrivastava (Chairperson), Anil Kumar Tyagi (Judicial Member) and Dr. A. Senthil Vel (Expert Member), directed the State to take all possible effective and expeditious steps and a time bound action plan to ensure minimum discharge or stoppage of sewage discharge in river Ganga and Yamuna before the commencement of the Kumbh Mela.

A report of the Joint Committee was filed containing the details of the untapped drains joining river Ganga and Yamuna. On perusal of the said report, the Tribunal noted that there are 44 untapped drains which are discharging untreated sewage water in river Ganga. The report also stated that there are total 81 drains in the city and these 81 drains are discharging 289.97 MLD of sewage and that the sewage received through sewerage network in the existing 10 Sewage Treatment Plants (‘STPs’) is 178.31 MLD. The untapped drains are discharging 73.80 MLD and the gap in the treatment capacity is 128.28 MLD. The Tribunal said that nothing reflects that during the forthcoming Kumbh Mela any effective progress will be made to prevent the discharge of 73.80 MLD untreated sewage in river Ganga through the untapped drains.

The Tribunal noted several shortcomings in the report, as to clarification on treatment of excess fed sewage. The Tribunal said that 1,66,456 households are yet to be connected therefore, how much further sewage will be conveyed to existing or proposed STPs was unclear. The Tribunal added that the standards for compliance particularly for faecal coliform, should be as per the directions in Nitin Shankar Deshpande v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine NGT 1550.

Regarding the question of Kumbh Mela, the Tribunal said that the pilgrims and visitors of the Kumbh Mela will be taking bath in river Ganga and Yamuna and will be using the water for drinking etc., hence, all possible effective and expeditious steps must be taken and a time bound action plan must be prepared for ensuring minimum discharge or stoppage of discharge of sewage in Ganga and Yamuna.

Hence, the Tribunal provided eight weeks of time to the State to file a further report reflecting the progress in this direction and closing their bid in time. The Tribunal also directed the Authorities concerned to ensure that the water quality of rivers is maintained to the level of drinking quality and its suitability is displayed to pilgrims and visitors of the Kumbh Mela at various bathing Ghats.

The matter was further listed for hearing on 23-09-2024.

[Kamlesh Singh v. State of UP, Original Application No. 310/2022, Decided on: 01-07-2024]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

For the respondents: Advocate Ankit Verma, Surendar Singh, Project Manager, UP Jal Nigam (Rural), Advocate Gigi. C. George

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