In a strong-worded order on Wednesday, the National Green Tribunal directed the state pollution control board to register an FIR against 124 industrial units located on the banks of Kali, Krishna and Hindon rivers in seven districts of western UP.
While observing that these industries have “polluted water bodies by releasing untreated effluents into them, bringing untold miseries upon poor villagers”, the green court ordered immediate action against such units in Meerut, Ghaziabad, Noida, Baghpat, Muzaffarnagar, Shamli and Saharanpur.
The tribunal asked central and state authorities to start a special health scheme for people affected by contaminated water and also consider providing jobs to those rendered disabled. The NGT principal bench headed by Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel issued the order while hearing a petition filed by NGO Doaba Paryavaran Samiti (DPS) in October 2014.
Earlier, the green court had passed several orders including setting up a committee to test water in these rivers for heavy metals, sealing handpumps spewing contaminated water and making provision for portable water for villagers, but the ground reality hasn’t changed and people residing in villages along Kali, Krishna and Hindon rivers continue to suffer.
Speaking with TOI, president of Doaba Paryavaran Samiti and the petitioner in the case, Chandraveer Singh, said, “I had filed a petition in NGT highlighting the plight of Gangnauli village in Baghpat where a large number of residents were found to be suffering from cancer, bone deformities, among other ailments, because of high level of toxicity in Krishna river. Several tests conducted by government-approved labs corroborated this. Not just Gangnauli, hundreds of villages situated on the banks of these rivers across half a dozen districts are facing this problem. Today’s order will have far-reaching consequences and will certainly make life better for people in these villages.”
According to NGT lawyer Gaurav Bansal, “The principal bench has asked the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board to launch prosecution proceedings under relevant sections of Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act against 124 industrial units. If allegations against these industries are proven true, their owners/ managers will have to face a minimum imprisonment of 18 months that can extend up to six years.”