New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has imposed a fine of Rs 2 crore each on Rajasthan State Industrial Development & Investment Corporation Ltd. (RIICO) and Barmer and Jodhpur districts for illegally discharging pollutants into rivers Jojri, Luni and Badi. The bench of the tribunal headed by Justice Adarsh Goel, Sudhir Agarwal and Dr Nagin Nanga, on a petition filed by the gram panchayat of village Araba in Jodhpur, directed the Rajasthan State Pollution Control Board (RSPCB) to ensure that no untreated or partly treated pollutant is further discharged in water bodies or land which do not comply with the environmental laws and also ordered that any industry, including operators of Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP), Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) or Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP), to be sealed if violation of polluting the rivers is found to have continued. The fundamental issue before the court was untreated pollutants that were reposted into the river, as 300 million litres of toxic waste was dumped into the river on a daily basis.
The contaminated river flows adjoining to Jodhpur, which is a regional industrial hub and has a large number of textile dyeing and printing industry, steel industry, etc. but with inadequate infrastructure, the effluents and sewage have been for decades being dumped into the river. According to the court orders, the Statutory Regulators in coordination with the concerned District Magistrates will make a survey of respective areas of districts Jodhpur and Barmer, and prepare detailed exhaustive lists of Industrial Proponents who are causing pollution. Regular monitoring shall be observed by a Committee comprising RSPCB concerned District Magistrates and Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) and appropriate remedial action including assessment of compensation as well as prosecution shall be taken against the violators.
According to the petitioners’ counsel, Jaideep Singh Jaitawat, “Officials will have to file a comprehensive compliance report, showing how many industries were closed, how much amount was recovered, all have to be reported. The authorities are duty-bound to now shut down all the polluting industries and recover the cost of environmental damage from them. The court has also directed the money recovered to be reinvested in the rehabilitation of affected land and water, if you see it in its entirety, the order had its significance in terms of the action which has to be followed now for the next six months, and compliance has to be reported by September.”