Hindon river pollution: NGT orders criminal proceedings against municipal officers

The National Green Tribunal has ordered initiating criminal proceedings against officers in charge of municipal bodies across seven districts of Uttar Pradesh for their failure to prevent pollution of the Hindon River.

Hindon is a tributary of the Yamuna river having a length of around 400 km and a catchment area of about 7,083 sq. km. The rain-fed river is a primary source of water in the districts of Gautam Buddh Nagar, Ghaziabad, Saharanpur, Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Meerut and Baghpat.

A bench of judicial members Justices Sudhir Agarwal and Arun Kumar Tyagi said, “Despite the matter being pending for more than one year, nothing substantially was improved about the quality of water of river Hindon and the continuous discharge of untreated sewage and trade effluent is still rampant, polluting river water continuously.”

Till date, “stringent action” has not been taken and the remedial action shows “only future promises, meetings, some decisions, actions to be taken in future but virtually there is no improvement of the situation”, the bench, also comprising expert member A Senthil Vel said.

Noting that some sewage treatment plants (STPs) that were under trial for several months were not yet functional, the bench said it showed a lack of seriousness and earnest efforts on the part of the authorities in the discharge of their statutory functions for the protection of the environment.

“In these circumstances, we direct Member Secretary, UPPCB (Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board) forthwith to initiate or get initiated criminal prosecution by lodging criminal complaint in appropriate court against the officers-in-charge of municipal corporations/municipal bodies (of the seven districts),” the tribunal said in an order dated December 15.

It also directed initiation of criminal prosecution against industries which are discharging pollutants into the river.

“Besides, the State Pollution Control Board and its authorities shall take immediate action for closure of the industrial and other establishments, which are discharging polluted matter in river Hindon and shall also proceed to assess and finalise adequate Environmental Compensation,” the tribunal said and sought a compliance report from the UPPCB within two months.

The matter has been listed for February 23 for further proceedings.

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