Published: Wednesday 15 November 2006

Ganga Action Plan Expressing concern over the lack of proper implementation of the Rs 900-crore Ganga Action Plan, the Supreme Court has sought a status report from the Union environment secretary on the cleaning of the river.

The direction came from a bench headed by Chief Justice Y K Sabharwal, which was shocked when the Union government's counsel expressed his inability to assist the court, as he had no instructions in the case. Counsel for the government, Vijay Panjwani, told the bench that he intended to withdraw from the case as he could not make excuses every time before the court. Taking serious note of the callous and casual attitude of the government, the court in its order said, "this matter relates to implementation of Ganga Action Plan, the object of which was to improve water quality of the Ganga River".

Referring to a report of the comptroller and auditor general, it said that in the plan, hundreds of crores have been spent to improve water quality but the result is that the water quality has further deteriorated and industrial pollution has increased. The court has also issued notices to the Ganges basin states (Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal) to file their status reports on the plan immediately.

Murphy's oil spill The US district judge has approved a US $330 million preliminary settlement in the class-action lawsuit against Murphy Oil Corporation over an oil spill that contaminated thousands of homes during Hurricane Katrina. The suit was filed after an oil storage tank at Murphy's Meraux refinery in St Bernard Parish, outside New Orleans, spilled about a million gallons of oil as storm surges from Hurricane Katrina hit it. The oil fouled an area of over 15 sq km. The case consists of about 6,200 claims. The settlement amount could rise if additional clean-up work is needed.

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