The National Green Tribunal has directed State of Uttar Pradesh to pay Rs 10 crore as Environment Compensation, for causing damage to the environment by permitting discharge of untreated sewage, containing toxic Chromium, into 'River Ganga'..
A bench led by Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said "It was not considered that the sewage/effluents had highly toxic Chromium content. Its impact on recipient water of river Ganga and the downstream inhabitants who will use such water was not considered. The action taken cannot by any standards be considered to be a responsible action of a welfare State and shows total apathy for the environment and the health of the inhabitants and the rule of law."
The tribunal also directed the UP State Pollution Control Board and Up Jal Nigam to pay a compensation of Rs 1 crore each for not stopping the pollution caused by the tanneries. It said "The UPPCB, unfortunately, has not taken any action against such illegality and against polluting 122 tanneries for a long time for which the UPPCB has to be held liable to pay compensation of Rs. 1 Crore. The UP Jal Nigam is also liable for such neglect as it released untreated large quantity of sewage containing toxic Chromium in river Ganga. UP Jal Nigam is held liable for environment compensation of Rs. 1 Crore. The said amounts may be deposited with the CPCB within one month from today." This amount the authorities can recover from eerring officers.
The judgment pronounced by the tribunal also held the state government liable for failing to take any action for shifting of Chromium dumps at Rania and Rakhi Mandi, areas which resulted in damage to the environment and public health for the period from 1976 till date. The amount of compensation in this regard is held to be the amount assessed by the UPPCB to be recovered from the erring industries to the tune of Rs 280.01 crore. Till such recovery, from the State itself must pay the amount by way of transfer to an ESCROW account.
Tribunal said "The fact remains that the problem has not been tackled for the last 43 years and it has resulted in contamination of groundwater affecting the health and life of the inhabitants and fauna. Compensation has been assessed only in the year 2019 without it being clear whether there is a chance of actual recovery of the same. There is no explanation for earlier inaction by the State of UP and the UPPCB. For this failure, under the Public Trust Doctrine, the State is liable to deposit the said assessed amount in an ESCROW account for restoration of the environment and the public health in the area."
The tribunal directed Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to issue appropriate directions to ensure that no authority allows discharge of polluted sewage or polluted effluents directly into a water channel or stream in violation of law even in monsoon and also the standards for faecal coliform are duly maintained.
An Expert Committee is also appointed to conduct the health survey within three months, to utilize the amount of Rs 208.01 crore for carrying out remedial measures.