The National Green Tribunal directed Centre not to release funds for cleaning the river from Gomukh to Kanpur without its permission.
A Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar asked Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and the Ganga Rejuvenation through National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) not to grant funds to the State governments of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
Ministry of Water Resources had constituted NGRBA for rejuvenation of Ganga. While NGRBA is the apex body looking after cleaning of Ganga, National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) is the implementing agency for the project termed as “Namami Gange”.
NGRBA’s jurisdiction extends to the States through which the Ganga flows namely, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and such other States where major tributaries flow.
The green panel passed the direction after the officials from the Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand failed to satisfy the Bench about different points of pollution in the river in both the States.
During the proceedings, advocate M C Mehta, who has sought cleaning of the Ganga, said there was discharge of sewage, trade effluents and other pollutants due to rapid urbanisation and industrialisation in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.
Mr Mehta alleged that there was no data with regard to sewage generation in both the States resulting in a “blame game” by each other.
He said that the Environment Ministry, state pollution control boards and other authorities should look into the quantum of pollution caused by each State and deal with it accordingly.
Noting that industrial effluents and sewage discharged by industries were the primary cause of pollution in the Ganga, the Tribunal had directed the Centre to take a clear stand on a mechanism to clean the river from Haridwar to Kanpur.
The tribunal on December 23, 2015 had held a meeting of stakeholders including chief secretaries of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand besides other senior officers from both the states.
The green panel had divided the cleaning work of the Ganga into different segments — Gomukh to Haridwar, Haridwar to Kanpur, Kanpur to border of U.P., border of U.P. 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 Ganga with effect from February 1 while slapping a penalty of Rs 5,000 per day on erring hotels, dharamshalas and ashrams spewing waste into the river.