The principal bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has come down heavily on the Tamil Nadu government for failing to clean its water bodies, particularly the Cooum and Adayar rivers, and the Buckingham canal, despite repeated assurances.
The bench said it was tentatively inclined to fine the state government Rs 100 crore for not being able to act on its assurances about cleaning the water bodies, but would wait for a report from an expert committee to assess the exact quantum of damage.
The increasing pollution in these three water bodies has been due to “repeated failure of the State of Tamil Nadu in its duties,” said a three-member bench led by Chairman Justice Adarsh Goel.
“Before taking a final view, a joint committee comprising representatives of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Indian Institute of Sciences-Bangalore, Madras School of Economics, National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), and the State Pollution Control Board may assess the causes and quantum of damage to the environment as well as further steps required for restoration of environment which are not covered in the action plan,” the three-member bench said.
The NGT has also directed the chief secretary of the state to be present in person on the next date of hearing on April 23. “We direct the Chief Secretary to be ready with the progress in the present matter as well which is impacting large number of inhabitants living in the catchments of these river systems,” the NGT said.
On the last date of hearing in the matter, the NGT had said it was not satisfied by the action taken report submitted by the state and asked Tamil Nadu government as to why it should not be asked to submit a performance guarantee of Rs 10 crore.
NGT also said authorities had been “lethargic in taking steps and the plan of cleaning” of the mentioned rivers.
“Unless the government has the strong will to implement the beautification scheme as envisaged by them, it will be difficult to make the water bodies clean and prevent environmental damage being caused to those water bodies,” the NGT said.