Justice Kehar directs state governments to initiate criminal and civil proceedings against industrial units flouting norms
Supreme Court has set March 31 as the new deadline for all the Sewage Treatment Plants and Common Effluent Treatment Plants to meet the water quality norms set by the Pollution Control Boards. A SC bench lead by JS Kehar said that individual industries as well as industrial clusters found flouting these norms will face closure notice along with civil and criminal proceedings.
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by Vadodara-based Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS), the three- member bench has transferred the matter to the regional courts of National Green Tribunal (NGT). The apex court has asked Member Secretary of state pollution control boards, chairpersons of environmental board of the states and Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) to critically monitor several polluted clusters as well to ensure that the norms of the pollution control boards are met.
Further, the Bench, comprising Justice Kehar, Justices D Y Chandrachud and Sanjay K Kaul, asked municipal bodies and industrial clusters to set up primary effluent treatment plants and sewage treatment plants in three years. The bench directed all the state governments to ensure that in case of shortage of funds the polluting industries would contribute to the construction of effluent treatment plant.
On the other hand, Kehar, taking serious note of the water and air pollution across the country, said that the country needs to act now and directed all the state government to report to the concerned regional NGT benches.
Rohit Prajapati, a member of the PSS and one of the petitioners in the case, told Down To Earth that the order will help in fighting the cases related to pollution of water bodies across the states. "Gujarat's critically polluted clusters have deteriorated to abysmal levels with industries flouting norms while disposing waste water. We are hoping that the order will be fully implemented across the state as well as the whole nation," added Prajapati.
Some of the most severely polluted clusters are situated in Gujarat which includes Ankleshwar and Vapi. On the other hand, a 2015 study by Central Pollution Control Board found 308 polluted stretches in 275 rivers studied.
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