Supreme Court Seeks Report From Green Court-Appointed Panel On Cleaning River Yamuna (19-01-2021)

New Delhi:  The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought a report from a committee, set up by the NGT, regarding the recommendations made by the panel for improving the water quality of Yamuna river and the extent to which authorities have implemented them.

The National Green Tribunal had on July 26, 2018 constituted the monitoring committee comprising its former expert member BS Sajwan and former Delhi chief secretary Shailaja Chandra on the cleaning of Yamuna river and had directed it to submit an action plan in this regard.

A bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde took note of the submission of amicus curiae and senior advocate Meenakshi Arora about the NGT-appointed committee which has been looking into the issues related to the cleaning of Yamuna.

The top court, which last week took suo motu cognisance of contamination of rivers by effluent, was informed by Ms Arora that the water quality of river Yamuna was excellent on January 18 and the ammonia level was under control.

If this can be maintained, it will be good, Ms Arora told the bench, also comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and Vineet Saran.

The amicus, while apprising the bench about the NGT-appointed committee, said that a detailed report can be called upon from the panel.

You want a report on what subject, the bench asked.

Ms Arora said the committee can give the report about its recommendations and also on their implementation by the authorities.

Delhi Jal Board (DJB) says they have brought the water quality to excellent level. Let them maintain this level and this shows that if there is a will, there is a way, the amicus said.

Senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for Haryana, said they would file a comprehensive reply on the DJB's separate plea in the matter.

The problem is occurring not at Haryana but in Delhi. What the DJB is saying is completely incorrect, Divan told the bench.

The bench, which granted time to Haryana to file reply, added states of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh as party in the suo motu matter.

At the fag end of hearing, the counsel appearing for Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) claimed that Delhi is the habitual offender so far as pollution in river Yamuna is concerned and they would file their affidavit on the issue.

The top court, while taking cognisance of the issue of remediation of polluted rivers, had last week directed the CPCB to submit a report identifying municipalities along the river Yamuna, which have not installed total treatment plants for sewage as per the requirement or have gaps in ensuring that the sewage is not discharged untreated into the river.

The top court had on January 13 said that pollution-free water is a fundamental right which a welfare state is bound to ensure , and issued notices to the Centre, CPCB and five states including Delhi and Haryana on the issue.

The top court, which had directed its registry to register the suo motu case as 'Remediation of polluted rivers', said it would first take up the issue of contamination of the Yamuna river.

The order, widening the scope of judicial scrutiny of contamination of water to rivers across the country, was passed when the court was hearing a plea of DJB which has alleged that water containing high pollutants is being released into the Yamuna river from Haryana.

DJB has alleged that the water released by neighbouring Haryana into the Yamuna river has pollutants including high ammonia content which become carcinogenic after mixing with Chlorine.

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20 Jan 2021