Gandhinagar: Reprimanding the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) and the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) for not ensuring a curb on pollution in the Sabarmati river, the Gujarat High Court has warned the authorities and industries, saying that it will hold everyone responsible for this, and that those in the power were protecting the polluters.
The court was hearing the matter on Tuesday.
The court also warned that before it was too late, Gujarat Pollution Control Board officers should identify the industrial polluters and take action against them. The GPCB should collect samples and plug the issue. The court said the GPCB was not fulfilling its responsibility and “high rank officers are protecting industries. Industrialists who don't reside along this patch of river will not realise the pollution level.”
Earlier last month, the Gujarat High Court had taken a suo motu cognizance based on media reports that sewage water was not being treated in accordance with the set norms at the sewage treatment plant at Pirana in Ahmedabad city and that polluted water was being released into the Sabarmati River.
The bench of Justices J.B. Pardiwala and V.D. Nanavati had appointed advocate Hemang Shah as an amicus curiae. Shah said that he had walked along the river embankment on the periphery of Pirana area in Ahmedabad at 5 a.m. in his submission to the Court.
"Mr Shah was barely able to walk in the particular area because of extremely foul stink coming out of the water in some areas of the river banks. And the reason according to him is the discharge of the sewage into the river. The sewage is not being treated in a proper manner at the sewage treatment plant. He also found that there are many illegal industrial connections of trade effluent which is adding to the present problem," the court recorded in its order.
Even the senior advocate Mihir Joshi representing the AMC, in his submission admitted that in industrial clusters like Narol, Odhav, Vinzol, etc. there were industries and industrial estates which illegally connected industrial effluent discharge pipelines into the trunk line of sewage. Effluent was also dumped by tankers into the pumping station pipelines
"According to Mr Joshi, the menace or the nuisance of illegal trade effluent being discharged into the sewage drainage system needs to be looked into and attended to by the GPCB at the earliest. It is only the GPCB who can take appropriate action. But unfortunately we don't have a very good experience with the GPCB. There are people at the top who protect these industries also," Justice Pardiwala observed.
"These problems won't be solved by merely quoting the SC, but be solved only by catching hold of everyone by their ears. This is exactly what we are going to do now from today onwards. We will catch hold of everyone responsible for this by their ears. No one will be spared. We take pride in our Sabarmati River, how can we spare those polluting the river?" said the Bench.
The division bench has ordered GPCB officials to identify varied industrial pollution and take action against them, accordingly. "GPCB is also directed to collect samples and plug the issue, immediately," said the order.
The court told the authorities that the current pollution levels in the river was worrying. “Industrialists are illegally releasing pollutants in the STP pipeline. The Sewage Treatment Plant is not working effectively and the AMC's plan to upgrade the plant with an investment of Rs 100 crore will consume time. If the pollution continues, it will create a grave situation,” the bench stated.
The HC informed the AMC and the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) officials that they will make a surprise visit to the Sabarmati river on any given day, between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m.
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