PUBLIC INTEREST LITIGATIONS

2. GANGA POLLUTION MATTER: Writ Petition (Civil) No. 3727/1985 (M.C.Mehta Vs UOI & Ors.)

The Central Pollution Control Board filed an Interlocutory Application (IA) in 1999 before the Hon’ble Supreme Court seeking directions from the Hon’ble Court in respect of the municipalities/Nagarpalikas/local bodies located in the State of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal to maintain sewage treatment plants/ sewerage systems, pumping stations, crematoria, low cost community toilets or any other assets or infrastructure created under the Ganga Action Plan (GAP). The Hon’ble Court on 28.3.2001 after consideration of the replies of the States of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal directed that it was appropriate that the Central Pollution Control Board jointly with the respective State Pollution Control Boards, examine and inspect the functions of the aforesaid assets/infrastructure created under the Ganga Action Plan in the State of Bihar, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal (Now, the State of Uttranchal was included, the Uttranchal has been carved out as 27th State of India) and submit a comprehensive report indicating to what extent the orders of this court have been complied with by the respective authorities. The Central Board after carrying out in-depth inspection in each of the States, jointly with the concerned Pollution Control Board, submitted the report before the Hon’ble Supreme Court. The Central Pollution Control Board along with the State Pollution Control Boards of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal carried out inspection of 35 sewage treatment plants in Uttranchal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal from May 28th, 2001 to June 19th, 2001. The State Board of Uttranchal had not started functioning during the period of inspection, the U.P.Pollution Control Board joined the inspection of 3 sewage treatment plants in Uttranchal. The inspection report of the Central Pollution Control Board provided an overview of the operation and maintenance, performance evaluation of sewage treatment plants, conclusions and recommendations for four States. Out of 35 sewage treatments plants planned under Ganga Action Plan Phase – I (3 STPs in Uttranchal, 10 STPs in UP, 7 STPs in Bihar, and 15 STPs in West Bengal), 32 are commissioned and 29 were found functioning. Based on the inspections of the STPs and examination of various issues, the Central Pollution Control Board recommended that the staff responsible for operation and maintenance of STPs should be professionally qualified and trained. There should be detailed operational manual for each STP. There should be one laboratory in each town where sewage treatment plant with activated sludge unit is incorporated and the laboratory should be have basic facilities for analyzing pH, conductivity, BOD, COD, SS, Volatile SS and Dissolved Oxygen. The treatment plant should be monitored for its performance on daily basis for BOD, COD and SS. There should be a separate cell in the State Pollution Control Board for monitoring and management of sewage treatment plants. The decentralized approach in management of sewage needs to be encouraged. The Co-operative group housing societies, multistoried housing complexes, big hotels etc. need to set up appropriate on site wastewater treatment facilities for recycling of wastewater for gardening and other non-domestic uses to the extent possible. The STPs should be brought under regulatory mechanism for effective monitoring and pollution control. The municipalities must apply and obtain consent from the concerned State Pollution Control Boards under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974. The Hon’ble Court accepted the report of the Central Board and directed the concerned State Governments to submit their comments on the said report. The matter is under consideration of the Hon’ble Supreme Court.

 

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