NGT defers hearing on Ganga cleaning till tomorrow

New Delhi:The National Green Tribunal today adjourned till tomorrow the hearing on the plea relating to the cleaning and rejuvenation of River Ganga.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar posted the matter for March 30 after the counsel appearing for the Uttar Pradesh government sought more time citing unavailability of officers concerned.

The lawyer told the NGT that there has been change in the dispensation and a new government has been formed in the state leading to reshuffle in the administration.

The bench, however, refused to grant more time saying, “Don’t tell us all this. Don’t discuss political issues with us as we are only concerned with pollution of River Ganga.”

The tribunal had earlier issued a show cause notice to Kanpur municipal commissioner and the city’s water body officials asking why action should not be taken against them for degrading environment.

The bench, which is hearing the Ganga cleaning case on a day-to-day basis for expeditious disposal, had earlier slapped a fine of Rs 25,000 each on officers of the Ministry of Water Resources and UP Jal Nigam for filing incorrect information on 30 drains joining the River Ganga in Garhmukteshwar area of Uttar Pradesh.

Earlier, the tribunal was told by an experts’ panel that the functional sewage treatment plants in the Garhmukteshwar area of Uttar Pradesh do not operate as the domestic sewage network is not connected to the main sewerage system.

A three-member committee set up by the NGT had said that the Garhmukteshwar stretch of the Ganga should receive special attention as it was the habitat of the critically-endangered Gangetic Dolphin, an indicator species for the river’s ecosystem.

In February, the bench had ordered a CBI probe into the execution of the Ganga cleaning project after it noted that Rs 31.82 crore was spent on two sewage treatment plants (STPs) and a 58-km sewerage line project without due analysis and verification of the actual pollution load in the Garh drain and Brijghat drain.