The National Green Tribunal today came down heavily on the Uttar Pradesh government for "inaction" and "unsatisfactory" implementation of its order to provide clean drinking water in six western districts of the state.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar slammed the state government, Uttar Pradesh Jal Nigam and UP Pollution Control Board for risking the lives of "young children" in the villages of Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Meerut, Baghpat, Ghaziabad and Saharanpur districts.
"The (UP) officers were supposed to comply with our orders. But, they have not. Let human life be not so invaluable. What is the job as an authority? It is really unfortunate that the state is not able to provide even safe potable water to the residents of the state.
"Samples of water show contamination of ground water. This cannot be done to young children of our country. It is really a sorry state of affairs prevailing in these areas. You (the state government) don't give water to people and make excuses before us," the bench said.
The green panel directed the UP government and Jal Nigam to take a clear stand on the quality of ground water and said if piped supply of water can be provided to the people living in these villages then it would order removal of handpumps in these area.
The tribunal was hearing a petition filed by NGO Doaba Paryavaran Samiti which alleged that people were forced to drink contaminated water in six districts of western Uttar Pradesh.
The NGO has alleged negligence on part of the state government and said that villagers and kids of school in six districts were forced to drink contaminated water.
Advocate Gaurav Bansal, appearing for the NGO, told the bench that children in different villages of Baghpat district were developing serious physical disabilities because of drinking of ground water.
He also submitted various photographs purportedly showing infants and young children having developed serious disabilities, mentally and physically, due to contaminated water.
During the hearing, UP Jal Nigam told the bench that samples of groundwater from handpumps show excessive levels of iron, magnesium, lead, calcium, manganese, among others.
The jal nigam also said that it has placed sign boards on handpumps indicating that water is unfit for drinking.
The matter has now been listed for next hearing on February 16.