The efforts by the Centre and Uttar Pradesh to clean the Ganga have borne "zero" result, the National Green Tribunal said today, as it pulled them up and sought reports on the discharge of industrial waste in the river between Haridwar and Kanpur.
The green panel came down heavily on the Ministries of Environment and Forests, Water Resources, Central Pollution Control Board and other authorities for not taking a clear stand with regard to the cleaning of Ganga and gave them the "final opportunity" to submit the reports within two weeks.
"Everybody comes before us and says 'we have done this, we have done that'. But the result is zero. The main question is how are you going to protect the river Ganga from Haridwar to Kanpur? What do you propose to do? Tell us your plans.
"You just come before us and indicate that the problem is very serious. But what is the solution? Unfortunately, despite repeated directions,nothing has come out on record. The state governments may have different priority. But we have only one priority and that is to clean Ganga and we will do that," a bench headed by NGT Chairperson justice Swatanter Kumar said.
Irked at the non-compliance of its directions, the NGT granted "final opportunity" of two weeks to all authorities, ministries and Uttar Pradesh government to submit the requisite information and warned that in case of default, it would impose a cost of Rs 25,000 on each of the Secretary concerned.
Nothing substantial has also been done in regard to the source of finance for the river cleansing project, the possibility of applying Zero Liquid Discharge (waste water purification) to various types of industries and installation of online monitoring system for all industries along the river banks, it said.
Advocate M C Mehta, who has filed the plea for cleaning of Ganga, said the river will never be clean unless the state governmentd and its agencies come out with clear data on the industries.
He referred to various Supreme Court judgements on Ganga since 1987 and said the authorities have allowed the mushrooming of several industrial units which were openly discharging effluents in the river.
The counsel appearing for Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board said many small scale industries are operating along the banks of the river and the main reason for pollution in Ganga was the release of industrial waste in the water from these units.
In a bid to expedite cleaning of the Ganga, the tribunal had earlier directed the Uttarakhand government to demarcate flood plains of the river from Gomukh to Roorkee in the state and submit a compliance report in this regard.
It had directed the National Mission for Clean Ganga, the implementing wing for rejuvenation of the river, to apprise it about the expenditure details of the Rs 20,000 crore budget granted to it for cleaning and protection.
The NGT had also issued notices to the Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal governments to explain how they proposed to deal with the pollution caused in the river flowing through their jurisdiction and submit an action plan in this regard.
The green panel has divided the work of cleaning the river in segments -- Gomukh to Haridwar, Haridwar to Kanpur, Kanpur to border of Uttar Pradesh, border of Uttar Pradesh to border of Jharkhand and border of Jharkhand to Bay of Bengal.
On December 11 last year, the tribunal had imposed a complete ban on use of plastic of any kind from Gomukh to Haridwar along the river from February 1 and decided to slap a penalty of Rs 5,000 per day on erring hotels, dharamsalas and ashrams spewing waste into the river.