Holding the failure of the Uttar Pradesh administration responsible for the death of more than 500 children in Gorakhpur, the National Green Tribunal has criticised the state government for not taking adequate steps to prevent discharge of pollutants in Rapti river. The court also announced setting up of a monitoring committee to address the situation.
“We are of the view that there is undoubtedly failure of the administration for preventing pollution which has resulted in death of children as already noted. There is continued violation of environmental norms for which action is not being taken. In spite of direction in the last four years very little and insignificant steps have been taken and the result is that the pollution still continues,” the bench, also comprising Justice S P Wangdi, said.
“In such an emergent situation the stand of the authorities of shifting the burden of the responsibility from one department to another is against the spirit of the constitution. They have to come together and take immediate steps to prevent any further damage and also to reverse the damage already done. Those responsible for failure have to be made accountable. Those who have suffered need to be rehabilitated,” the bench added.
The monitoring committee comprises former judge Justice Devi Prashad Singh, senior representative of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), senior representative of UP pollution control board, Dr A.B. Akolkar, ex-member Secretary, CPCB and representative of Uttar Pradesh Jal Nigam.
“The technical/scientific members of the monitoring committee shall collect samples, cause analysis of such samples at Central Pollution Control Board Laboratory. They shall also carry out joint inspection of industries and other entities viz. ETPs, STPs, MSW site etc to ascertain contribution to environment degradation. CPCB shall be the convenor of technical and scientific team, which shall submit its report to the Chairman of monitoring committee,” the bench said.
The green panel was hearing a plea filed by Gorakhpur resident Meera Shukla, in which she had claimed that more than 500 deaths in 2014 alone had taken place in the city due to high contamination of water.