National

Will you finish cleaning up Ganga this term or not? SC to govt

The Supreme Court rapped the pollution control boards for not standing up against Industrial units having strong monetary and political influence polluting the Ganga. File photo: Ranjeet Kumar

The Supreme Court rapped the pollution control boards for not standing up against Industrial units having strong monetary and political influence polluting the Ganga. File photo: Ranjeet Kumar  

Noting the Centre should be “more keen” than the Supreme Court to hold true to its promise of bringing river Ganga back to its pristine self, the apex court on Wednesday asked the government if there is any chance of cleaning up the 2,500 km long holy river during its current term in power.

"You should be more keen than us... You said this (cleaning up the river) for which you are so committed. So, do you want to complete this task in this term of the government or not?” Justice T.S. Thakur, heading the bench hearing a 30-year-old PIL to rid river Ganga of pollution, asked.

In reply, Solicitor-General Ranjit Kumar assured the job would be completed by 2018.

This exchange came a day after Justice Thakur, while hearing another case on Tuesday, shared in open court of how his office received a phone call from the office of Uma Bharti, Minister for Water Resources and Rejuvenation, asking if he would be interested in taking part in a function at Varanasi related to the cleaning of the holy river.

“I then told my office to convey to the minister that I only hear the PIL on Ganga clean-up. I myself do not do the cleaning,” Justice Thakur shared in a lighter vein.

In today's hearing, the Bench asked the government to provide concrete steps in a report, which would in “layman's words” explain how the government would go about in its task of cleaning up the national river.

In an earlier hearing, the Bench had referred to the Ganga as “a lifeline of the people”.

“No matter what name you give, Ganga Action or Rejuvenation, we want you to give us details of the cleaning-up plans in such a manner that the court can verify the progress you make. And fortunately, money is not a constraint for you in this case, you have already spent Rs. 2,000 crore on this,” Justice Thakur orally observed.

Mr. Kumar submitted that a consortium of IITs is preparing a road map. He said the government is proposing a total 80 Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) which would process, in a day, 368 million litres of water flowing into the river in the five river basin States.

The court directed the government to present the status of 31 ongoing projects of STPs and 15 other STPs, which were in the bidding stage.

Today's hearing primarily focused on the domestic sewage flowing into the river. In October 2014, the bench had referred to the National Green Tribunal the responsibility to monitor and inspect industrial units along the river and even cut off their water and power connections if they were found to be polluting.

The Supreme Court has been hearing this PIL since the early 1980s. Numerous orders have been passed by it, directing authorities to protect the river. The petition was filed by lawyer M.C. Mehta highlighting the alarming state of the river and its depletion owing to pollution.

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Printable version | Feb 18, 2020 5:51:05 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/supreme-court-seeks-verifiable-progress-in-ganga-cleansing/article6789207.ece

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