NGT sets up committee to resolve issue of sewage, toxic gas in Delhi’s Kushak drain

Observing that channelising, treating and using sewage scientifically is the responsibility of statutory authorities, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has set up a committee to resolve the issue of sewage and toxic gas release from south Delhi’s Kushak drain.

The NGT was hearing a petition alleging violation of environmental norms in maintaining the Kushak stormwater drain near houses in B block of Greater Kailash-I.

A bench of NGT Chairperson Justice A K Goel said the grievance needs to be remedied but the covering of a drain can be allowed only if a proper separate pipeline to carry sewage is provided and only rainwater is carried into the drain, which is not the case here.

“The applicants themselves have mentioned that covering the drain has resulted in the accumulation of poisonous gases (that are being) released from uncovered parts of the drain behind certain houses. Thus, it may not be proper to permit the covering of the drain in these circumstances…,” said the bench, also comprising judicial member Justice Sudhir Agarwal and expert member A Senthil Vel.

The 6.5-kilometre-long Kushak drain carries stormwater and sewage from several south Delhi localities and meets the Barapullah drain near Nizamuddin West before flowing into the Yamuna river.

“Channelising/treating and using sewage scientifically as per norms is the responsibility of statutory authorities like the Municipal Corporation and the Delhi Jal Board to effectuate the right of citizens to a clean environment,” the bench said.

It said the solution was to prevent the flow of sewage into the drain and its periodic cleaning, including desilting and ensuring that water does not stagnate.

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“We, accordingly, issue a direction that a joint committee of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), Delhi Jal Board (DJB) and Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) may look into the matter and resolve the issue with the mandate of ensuring that no toxic gases are released from the drain in question due to discharge of sewage,” the NGT said.

Sewage flow may be intercepted at the appropriate location and channelised to the nearest sewage treatment plants, it said.

The tribunal said the DJB will be the nodal agency for coordination and compliance and the committee has to meet within two weeks. The applicants are free to make their representation before it.

The matter has been posted for further hearing on September 26.

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