Hundreds of villagers have fallen prey to the effects of pollution by industries in the major industrial districts of Uttar Pradesh for the past 20 years. Exposure to pollutants has resulted in an increasing number of people falling prey to cancer because of the direct exposure to the contaminated water bodies. In response to the harsh impacts of such unwarranted and unchecked pollution, the Bench headed by the newly appointed Chairperson Justice AK Goel, judicial members Justice Jawad Rahim and SP Wangdi and expert member Nagin Nanda recommended an action plant to assess and evaluate the existing situations of the 302 rivers spread across India as well as a cost affixed for the treatment of the affected individuals to be borne by the industries/pollutants.
The Petitioner, Doaba Paryavaran Samiti, had filed the petition seeking specific directions against industries such as sugar mills, distilleries, paper mills, electroplating, slaughter houses, wet blues hides etc. that were running illegally and were involved in mass pollution of the river water by dumping hazardous materials in the districts of Saharanpur, Baghpat, Ghaziabad, Muzaffarnagar, Shamli and Meerut in Uttar Pradesh.
The petitioner further informed the bench that the inhabitants of areas on the banks of Kalinadi, Krishna and Hindon rivers were forced to consume highly polluted water from the rivers and are suffering from diseases like hepatitis, cholera, kidney failure, liver damage, mental retardation, cancer, bone diseases, deformities of the new-borns and several other fatal diseases. Testing of the water bodies also confirmed the claim of the Petitioner as the water bodies contained highly toxic elements such as cadmium, zinc, chrome, nickel, iron, lead, fluoride and mercury, which upon ingestion have the tendency to cause serious medical issues including cancer.
The Bench observed that the impact of such unchecked contamination by the polluters needs to be rectified and the pollutants be made responsible for bearing the cost of the medical treatment of the villagers affected due to the contamination after the State funds are utilised for treatment of the victims first. The Tribunal further observed that in the presence and availability of legal provisions to be implemented in prosecution such polluting industries, there has been no prosecution initiated against the offenders in the present case.
The tribunal then ordered the CPCB and the State Pollution Control Board to compile entire information about the prosecution initiated, action plans prepared by the State Pollution Control Board and the action taken by the district administration and furnish a comprehensive report on January 31, 2019.
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