The National Green Tribunal has rapped the Uttar Pradesh government for not taking effective steps to control pollution in River Hindon, noting that damage from pollution is no less than the damage from other heinous crimes.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice A K Goel said repeated orders will not serve any purpose unless the administration takes ownership of its Constitutional obligation to the citizens.
"It is a matter of regret that the State authorities have failed to discharge their constitutional obligation of taking remedial measures inspite of attention of the highest authorities in the administration being drawn to the problem," the bench said.
"We had expected that with the involvement of the Chief Secretary, the procedural and inter-departmental coordination issues will be resolved. But unfortunately, it has not so happened," the bench said.
"Thus, instead of keeping the proceedings pending, we consider it appropriate to require the Chief Secretary, UP to ensure remedial action on expeditious basis.
"The action should also include fixing responsibilities and making entry in the service record of incompetent or failing officers, who were earlier entrusted this responsibility, granting necessary approvals and providing necessary funds," the bench said.
The NGT also directed the River Rejuvenation Committee of UP to monitor execution of action plans for Hindon, subject to overall oversight of the Chief Secretary. The Chief Secretary, while reviewing the status of various issues, may focus on timely completion of the ongoing works, it said.
The green panel also noted that the Member Secretary of the state pollution control board does not have exclusive charge of the PCB but is also Special Secretary to the Government, apart from being Member Secretary, SEIAA and holding other positions.
"One wonders how one person can do justice to the job holding so many positions when even working as Member Secretary pollution control board requires full time involvement in view of serious environmental issues awaiting attention.
"Independence in working is also bound to be affected when a person has multifarious functions, including as limb of the Government, making it difficult to work as independent regulator," the bench said.
"Even the compliance report in the present case, on behalf of the State, has been filed by the said Member Secretary in his capacity as Special Secretary to the Government. Let this aspect be looked into by the Chief Secretary, UP and remedial action taken in accordance with law in the light of the Supreme Court judgement," the bench said.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) was hearing a petition filed by NGO Doaba Paryavaran Samiti alleging pollution in Kali Nadi, Krishna and Hindon rivers, resulting in diseases and deaths of some inhabitants of the area.