The National Green Tribunal today directed the Uttar Pradesh government to urgently provide clean drinking water in the Sambhal district and warned that there should be "no laches" by the authorities to comply with the order.
A bench headed by Justice Raghuvendra S Rathore also asked the state government to file a comprehensive plan for supply of water in the affected villages.
Keeping in view the fact that there is scarcity of drinking water and the people are to be supplied with drinking water by the authorities, "we direct the District Magistrate, Sambhal to immediately take necessary steps.
"The counsel for the State is directed to inform the District Magistrate, Sambhal with regard to the order passed today. We hope that there shall be no laches on the part of the authority concern to comply with this order," the bench said.
The green panel also directed the state to file its reply in the case before April 11 while making it clear that no further time would be granted.
During the hearing, the UP Jal Nigam told the bench that 130 handpumps in Sambhal district were discharging water which contained arsenic beyond the permissible limit.
The tribunal had earlier said it was surprised that despite knowing that the groundwater of 30 villages of Sambhal district was heavily contaminated, the authorities had not taken any step to improve the situation.
The NGT direction came on a plea filed by advocate Gaurav Bansal who said as per the website of the national rural drinking water programme maintained by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, the groundwater of 30 villages of Sambhal district was heavily contaminated.
He had contended that the people in these villages were forced to drink polluted water due to the inaction by the state government in resolving the issue and sought directions to the state to provide potable drinking water to the villages where handpumps were discharging contaminated water.
The petition has alleged that due to the consumption of contaminated groundwater, "farmers, children, and aged persons" of these villages were suffering from various diseases.
The lawyer said he had himself visited one such village Sharifpur and found that all the handpumps were releasing yellow-coloured water.
"During the visit, applicant was told by the villagers of Sharifabad and Kurkawali that many of the interior villages were facing acute potable water shortage," it said.
The petition had also sought direction to formulate and place on record a scheme to prevent health hazards caused by the consumption of contaminated handpump water.
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