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TS gets earful from NGT for not looking after Musi

HYDERABAD: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) ripped the Telangana government apart for failing to protect the Musi river and directed it to clear the encroachments on “mission mode”. The green court’s Principal Bench said the extent of encroachments on the river is “huge” and criticised the government for its “sorry state of affairs”.

It also rapped the government for “not discharging its basic obligation” in following a 47-year-old law — The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 — and allowing untreated waste to be disposed into water bodies.

The green court also pointed out that the government’s “failure is resulting in a water crisis, spread of diseases and posing a challenge to food safety, apart from aesthetics and failure of rule of law…”.

This is in contempt of the binding directions of the Supreme Court passed in 2017, which mandated putting in place a requisite number of sewage, effluent and common effluent treatment plants by March 31, 2018.

The NGT passed these remarks on Monday as it disposed of a petition filed by Mohammed Nayeem Pasha on the pollution and encroachments in the Musi. It issued a slew of directions for the river’s rejuvenation, which were issued the same day in another case pertaining to polluted river stretches in the country.

As per the directions, the rejuvenation works of the Musi will be monitored by the Telangana Chief Secretary once a month and by the Ministry of Jal Shakti (MoJS) once every quarter.

The Ministry is responsible for issuing the National River Rejuvenation Mechanism (NRRM) guidelines which will prescribe steps for controlling the pollution and rejuvenating all polluted river stretches in the country. It will also check the setting up of the national/state/district-level Environment Data Grid as an effective monitoring strategy.

The NGT directed all States to adhere to the timelines they have set for the rejuvenation of polluted river stretches, failing which they will have to pay a compensation to the MoJS as per the formula fixed by the green court in 2019. Chief Secretaries are accountable in case the governments fail to pay the compensation.

The NGT said the extent of encroachments on the river is “huge”. It rapped the govt for not following a 47-yr-old law, The Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, and allowing untreated waste into water bodies