15 States including Goa fail to draft action plan for restoration of polluted river stretches; Any delay after deadline, govts will be liable for compensation for damage to the environment ranging between Rs 1 crore to Rs 25 lakh per month based on pollution level category
PANJIM: Observing that 15 States including Goa have failed to draft action plan for restoration of polluted river stretches, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has given a last opportunity by extending the time for preparing the plan by January 31, next year. Any delay after that, State government would be liable for compensation for damage to the environment ranging between Rs one crore to Rs 25 lakhs per month based on the category of pollution level.
States are also directed to submit performance guarantee between Rs 15 crore to Rs five crore before Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
CPCB had declared as many as 351 river stretches across country including 11 in Goa as highly polluted, NGT Principal Bench, New Delhi, via an order in September, had asked the States to come up with action plan within two months for bringing all the polluted river stretches to be fit at least for bathing purposes.
Total eight river stretches fall under Category V those are- Assonora to Sirsaim (Assonora), Bicholim to Curchirem (Bicholim), Ponda to Opa (Khandepar), along Candolim (Sinquerim) along Tiracol (Tiracol) Sanklim – Bicholim to Poriem (Valvanti) and Curchorem to Madkai (Zuari).
Two river stretches that fall under category IV are- Marcela to Volvoi (Mandovi) and along Canacona (Talpona). The river stretch from Khareband to Mobor (Sal) falls in Category III.
Accordingly, Goa Government earlier this month constituted a State-level committee under Secretary Environment to draft an action plan for restoration of the river stretches.
“This Tribunal directed action plans to be prepared within two months with the contemplation that water quality will be fit for bathing purposes within six months from the date of the action plan. We are informed that out of 29 States and 7 Union Territories (UTs), total of 16 States/UTs have prepared the draft action plans and 15 have failed to do so,” the fresh order issued on December 19, reads.
“By way of last opportunity, we extend the time for preparation of action plans till 31.01.2019 with the stipulation that for every delay thereafter, compensation for damage to the environment will be payable by each of the States/ UTs at the rate of Rs one crore per month for each of the Priority- I and Priority- II stretches, Rs 50 lakh per month for stretches in Priority- III and Rs 25 lakh per month each for Priority- IV and Priority- V stretches,” NGT stated.
The payment will be the responsibility of the Chief Secretaries of the States and the amount has to be recovered from the erring officers.
The action plan will include components like identification of polluting sources including functioning/ status of STPs/ETPs/CETP and solid waste management and processing facilities, quantification and characterisation of solid waste, trade and sewage generated in the catchment area of polluted river stretch.
The action plan will address issues relating to ground water extraction, adopting good irrigation practices, protection and management of Flood Plain Zones (FPZ), rainwater harvesting, groundwater charging, maintaining minimum environmental flow of river and plantation on both sides of the river, etc.