Sewage falling into Ganga causing cancer, SC informed
The Supreme Court has decided to hear the issue of discharge of untreated sewage into the Ganga posing a cancer threat to people living on its banks.
Two applications filed in the apex court pointed to threat of deadly diseases afflicting due to domestic sewage pollution of the Ganga in 36 towns in four states of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal.
The applications pointed out that the pollution posed thread of diseases likes gall bladder cancer, mild intestinal disease and kidney complications.
The court, which is monitoring the ambitious Ganga Action Plan aimed at checking pollution in the river, was informed that the serious health hazards due to domestic sewage pollution had been confirmed by Industrial Toxicology Research Institute, Lucknow.
Advocate Krishan Mahajan, who is assisting the court in the matter, mentioned the applications filed by him before a Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and expressed the urgency of hearing the health threat to around 76 percent of the people living on the banks.
He said that the latest report of the Lucknow institute had found that Ganga waters have become home to a virulent form of E-coli bacteria (producing the Shiga toxin) that can lead to ailments ranging from mild intestinal disease to severe kidney complications.
The amicus said there was no mandatory standard formulated by the Centre on E-coli form count in water though it (E-coli form) is a crucial parameter to judge the threat and avoid the serious ill-effects of presence of human defecation in water.
The advocate contended that it seems that the legal management system of pollution control in inter state river like the Ganges has collapsed at the state level and at the national monitoring level.
The public health problem posed by untreated domestic sewage has been aggravated due to the absence of adequate Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) in the four states.
In the two set of applications, the amicus has sought directions for state governments to take necessary steps for implementing the various environmental laws which would be helpful in curbing the pollution level of river Ganges.
The advocate has also sought a direction for the Ministry of Environment and Forest to set up national monitoring mechanism under the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for the discharge by the State Pollution Control Boards of their mandatory function under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act.
The unchecked pollution of the river Ganga has evoked sharp criticism by the apex court in the past which had noted on 5th December last that under the action plan out of the Rs 949 crore allocated by the Centre, around Rs 761 crore has been utilised but water quality has deteriorated and industrial pollution has gone unchecked on the 2,500 km stretch of river which passes through 29 major cities, 23 small cities and 48 towns.