A National Green Tribunal (NGT) bench, headed chairperson justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, slammed the Tamil Nadu government over poor pre-monsoon preparedness and asked its Public Works Department to deposit a penalty of Rs two crores within 15 days, with the Central Pollution Control Board. The tribunal’s order came, while hearing a bunch of pleas relating to pollution of Adyar and Cooum rivers in Chennai and Buckingham Canal. The plea alleged that there was uncontrolled discharge of effluent from different industries and untreated sewage directly into the water, besides encroachment on the banks of the rivers, by construction of different structures.
The tribunal directed the Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary to look into the matter directly and ensure that steps are taken on an urgent basis, in the interest of the environment and the people. “On perusal of the reports of the principal secretary of the Public Works Department, Tamil Nadu, we find that it is replete with vagueness and no instances of tangible action taken, for the mitigation of the problems having been stated. In so far as the work on the Buckingham Canal is concerned, it appears to have been taken under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission Scheme and only administrative sanction for an estimated amount of Rs 603.67 crores, appears to have been obtained. That apart, we find action taken for pre-monsoon preparedness for the years 2017 and 2018 have been placed at an estimated at the cost of Rs 70 lakhs and Rs 80.50 lakhs, respectively but the works undertaken appears only to be removal of floating materials,” the bench said.
The green panel said that the report on removal of the encroachments was equally disappointing, as it states that out of total 26,300 encroachments taken together, only 408 have been evicted, leaving the balance of 25,892 encroachments still to be dealt with.
The NGT refused to agree with the submission that the delay in the removal of encroachments was due to pending litigations and said the “Answer is absolutely vague as no particulars have been furnished, as regards the number of the encroachers who have approached the courts and its present status.”