Bench says Municipality cannot shirk its responsibility to prevent pollution in water bodies
The Coonoor Municipality cannot shirk its responsibility of preventing pollution in the water bodies in Coonoor, in the Nilgiris, as the pollution may impact areas downstream of a river, the Southern bench of the National Green Tribunal has said. It ordered that an action plan be drawn up to end the problem.
The bench also directed the Additional Chief Secretary of the Municipal Administration and Water Supply Department and the Director of Municipal Administration to look into the issue and come up with a proper action plan to prevent the pollution of the river.
The NGT had taken up the case suo moto in 2020 following a media report that elephants in the area did not have access to proper drinking water as the water bodies in the region were polluted. The Tribunal had formed a joint committee and directed the Coonoor Municipality to come up with a timeline to address the issue of water pollution.
The Municipality recently sought additional time to finalise a service provider to carry out photo-remediation of the beds of the streams. While the earlier proposal gave a timeline of August 2021 to seek funds from the government, the revised proposal provided a timeline of October 2021, and nine months from the date of financial approval for the schemes to be completed.
The Municipality also submitted that there were 109 commercial establishments that were letting their sewage into the water bodies and after notices were served, seven of them had stopped discharging the sewage.
It also informed the Tribunal that action was being taken to prevent the public from throwing garbage into the water bodies.
The joint inspection committee submitted to the Tribunal that the short-term measures taken by the Municipality were commendable and in the right direction, but was of little or no help in improving the quality of water in the water bodies.
The committee also submitted that an analysis of the the water samples found no severe adverse impact to the environment and also suggested that a timeline of 9 to 12 months be given for sewage treatment plants to be set up considering the terrain, the weather conditions and the pandemic situation.
While directing the Additional Chief Secretary to come up with an action plan, the bench also asked the Municipality to take action against establishments discharging sewage into the water bodies, and take short term measures to prevent the discharge till a a permanent one is implemented.
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