The Gujarat High Court came down heavily on the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) and the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) for not curbing pollution in the Sabarmati river, noting that untreated effluents continue to be dumped into the river.
The court held that there is a nexus of civic body officials, Pollution Control Board officials, and industries, with the government apparently “protecting polluters”.
The Division Bench of Justice J.B. Pardiwala and Justice V.D. Nanavati also said that it would make a surprise visit to check the river’s condition.
The court is hearing a suo motu petition initiated by it following media reports of sewage water and industrial effluents not treated in accordance with set norms being dumped into the river.
Senior advocate Mihir Joshi, representing the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, in his submission admitted that in industrial clusters like Narol, Odhav, Vinzol and Avayav, there were industries and industrial estates which illegally connected industrial effluent discharge pipelines to the sewage trunk line. Effluents were also dumped by tankers into pipelines of pumping stations.
“According to Mr. Joshi, the menace or the nuisance of illegal trade effluent being discharged into the sewage drainage system needs to be looked into and attended to by the GPCB at the earliest,” the court noted.
Expressing its displeasure over the GPCB’s approach to river pollution, the court said, “It is only the GPCB that can take appropriate action. But unfortunately, we don’t have a very good experience with the GPCB. There are people at the top who protect these industries also.”
The court asked the pollution control body to identify areas from which untreated effluents and sewage were being released into the river in violation of pollution control norms.
“The GPCB is also directed to collect samples and plug the issue immediately,” the Bench directed on Tuesday.
Stressing that stringent measures are needed to tackle the problem, Justice Pardiwala noted that the court itself will now ensure that polluters were caught and made to pay.
“We take pride in our Sabarmati river. How can we spare those polluting the river?” the court asked.
“These problems won’t be solved by merely quoting the Supreme Court, but only by catching hold of everyone by their ears. This is exactly what we are going to do now from today onwards,” held the court.