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Entire stretch of river Ganga in West Bengal unfit for bathing: NGT

The NGT was hearing a matter involving the prevention, control and reduction of pollution of the Ganga across each district and state through which the river or its tributaries flow.

Reported By: PTI Kolkata Published on: February 29, 2024 17:11 IST
Hooghly River near the Howrah Bridge in West Bengal
Image Source : PTI Hooghly River near the Howrah Bridge in West Bengal

The entire stretch of the Ganga in West Bengal contains high faecal coliform making the water unfit for bathing, the National Green Tribunal has observed, warning the authorities concerned of imposing a fine unless there was progress in tackling the pollution.

The tribunal underlined that 258.67 million litres per day (MLD) of untreated sewage was directly flowing into the river. The NGT was hearing a matter involving the prevention, control and reduction of pollution of the Ganga across each district and state through which the river or its tributaries flow.

It was considering a report from West Bengal, submitted in pursuance of its earlier directions. A bench of NGT Chairperson Justice Prakash Shrivastava noted that reports were filed by the District Magistrates (DM) of North 24 Parganas, Murshidabad, Nadia, Malda, Hooghly, Purba Burdhaman, Howrah, Purba Medinipur and South 24 Parganas.

"On perusal of these reports, we, in general, find that no adequate facilities for treatment of sewage generated per day have been set up and that even the timeline for achieving the target of 100 per cent treatment of sewage has not been disclosed," the bench, also comprising judicial member Sudhir Agarwal and expert members A Senthil Vel and Afroz Ahmad, said.

In an order passed on February 21, the bench said, it was "surprising " that not even a single Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) was set up in some districts like Purba Medinipur.

"The condition which has been reflected in these reports is far from satisfactory and shows that 258.

67 million litres per day (MLD) of untreated sewage is directly flowing in river Ganga in the state of West Bengal," it said.

The green panel directed the DMs of nine districts, through where the river's mainstream flowed, to file affidavits setting a deadline for achieving the target of 100 per cent treatment of sewage generated every day.

The DMs also have to disclose the manner and extent of utilisation of funds received from the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), besides steps taken for demarcation of floodplains in their districts, the tribunal said.

"We also find that the entire stretch of river Ganga in West Bengal contains high faecal coliform making the water unfit for bathing and thereby not meeting primary water quality criteria," it said. The tribunal directed the NMCG to carry out a performance audit of each of the districts on generation and treatment of waste and the extent of pollution each was causing in the river.

"We do not find any progress in the reduction of discharge of pollutants to River Ganga in any of the districts. Therefore, if in the next report, sufficient progress is not shown then the tribunal may not have any option but to impose Environmental Compensation (EC)," the tribunal said It ordered the DMs concerned and the NMCG to file fresh reports within eight weeks and posted the matter for further proceedings on May 2.

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