The Supreme Court on Wednesday made a second attempt to clean up the polluted Yamuna River which has a lot of pollution, by taking suo motu to detect high levels of ammonia in the water discharged from the capital Haryana.
High levels of ammonia in Yamuna had prompted the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) to reduce or stop water production from its plants at least five times last year. Also on Wednesday, the discovery of many parts of the capital was affected by high river pollution. The water ministry has announced that there will be no disruption to the supply of people on Thursday.
A three-judge bench headed by the Chief Justice of India SA Bobde has issued a notice to the Department of Environment; Department of Housing; the governments of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi and requested that they be represented on January 19, the next day of the hearing.
The bench noted that the Constitution and previous judicial decisions have given municipalities the right to establish sanitation facilities (STPs) and to prevent pollution from accessing excess water. However, as noted in the current application, the bench stated, “It is often found that feces are not treated with a plant before they are removed or that medical facilities are not functioning or disabled.”
The bench has instructed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to prepare a report that will identify municipalities along the river that will be submitting STPs.
The bench which includes the judges AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian said that the IC (CPCB) will also submit a list of municipalities which needs to be prioritized, with the river flowing through it which has been found to be highly polluted.
A similar operation was carried out by the Supreme Court in July 1994, when it took the lead in the announcement of the HT report “And Peace Flows Mile Yamuna”. After monitoring the case for 23 years and finding little success, the high court on April 24, 2017, appealed the application to the National Green Tribunal (NGT).
Referring to the order, the bench said, “It has been made clear that the application of suo motu and the references issued here, will not in any way clear up any other references issued by another court or tribunal.”
What prompted the high court to investigate the matter a second time was an application by the DJB to prevent the Haryana government from dumping sewage into the river. Attorney General Meenakshi Arora, a former DJB, said the level of ammonia in the river had reached alarming levels.
On December 25 last year, the ammonia concentration reached 13 ppm (particles per million) against the permissible limit of 0.5 ppm.
Arora said that the water of DJB water purifiers can be drunk with ammonia up to 0.9 ppm. He said that the plants in Chandrawal, Wazirabad and Okhla are forced to operate at about 50% capacity. The problem is with Haryana as their STPs are not working. They should not dump untreated sewage into the river. Ammonia mixed with chlorine can cause cancer and that they cannot supply the residents with this water.
The DJB in its application demanded that Haryana issue an immediate decision to suspend the discharge of pollution into the river.
Pointing to the “critical and urgent situation” facing Delhi, the DJB in its application, filed by attorney Shadadan Farasat, said, “The water treatment plants in Wazirabad, Chandrawal, Okhla, Sonia Vihar and Bhagirathi may not be able to process / pump any water due to excessive levels of pollution. This will completely disrupt the supply of drinking water to the NCT of Delhi. ”
The bench said also said that they find that in addition to the issue which was raised by the current application that theywill need to take the initiative so that they can address the issue of the river pollution due to sewage and ensure that the authority is also exercised by municipalities as in terms of river dumping… they also said that they consider it appropriate now to start with the Yamuna River pollution issue.