November 25, 2021 5:31:23 am
A month after the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation disconnected unauthorised effluent connections to sewage treatment plants (STPs) going into the Sabarmati river of 33 industries, the Gujarat Chambers of Commerce and Industries on Wednesday appeared before a division bench of the Gujarat High Court seeking relief.
The bench, however, made it clear that it is not going to relent or interfere in AMC’s actions and instead urged the civic body to continue with the crackdown.
The Gujarat HC had in October cracked the whip on AMC for “shirking its responsibilities”, during the hearing of a suo motu public interest litigation (PIL) regarding releasing of untreated industrial effluents and sewage water into the Sabarmati river in Ahmedabad.
The court had observed that the AMC should take a “bold step” and had remarked that the civic body should put a stop to trade effluents coming to STPs.
Although the suo motu PIL is listed for hearing on December 3, advocate Megha Jani, representing GCCI, appeared before the division bench of Justices JB Pardiwala and VD Nanavati seeking relief from AMC’s action, for industries which have “legal connections”. Jani’s submission was oral with no formal application submitted before the court to this effect as on date.
Justice Pardiwala, after inquiring from advocate Jani if the GCCI is discharging trade effluents, to which she answered in the affirmative, the judge remarked, “you cannot.”
“Make it clear to your clients, do not interfere in this litigation. They are supposed to discharge that trade effluent at the CETP (common effluent treatment plants, which specifically function to treat trade effluents)… They have no business to connect their connections with the sewage pipeline. They have caused extensive damage to the tune of crores of rupees. All STPs are now damaged extensively. All CETPs are damaged extensively…This drive will go on… If your client comes in the way of the entire drive which the AMC has undertaken, we will hold them guilty of contempt,” Justice Pardiwala observed.
Justice Pardiwala further instructed the counsel for AMC, GH Virk, “Continue with the drive, I want you to disconnect every (unauthorised) connection.”
Advocate Virk responded that AMC shall not stop in its drive and is “committed” to the cause despite “receiving threats everyday from the industries,” to which the court remarked that AMC must put such instances on record.
Advocate Jani however submitted that while the court had directed for disconnecting “unauthorised connections,” GCCI was only contending that the connections in question were only drain-age connections of domestic was-te. “They (AMC) are disconnecting those (connections) which are within the industrial estate which take their water to the CETP, which goes to the mega pipeline,” Jani submitted, while impressing that if immediate relief is not provided by the court, the AMC will “disconnect even those (connections) which are legal.”
The court however added that AMC will not disconnect legal connections and the civic body will be applying its mind in that regard. Addressing the GCCI’s advocate, Justice Pardiwala remarked, “Situation is so grim… A 200-kilometre stretch of Sabarmati is dead… You have pocketed lakhs and lakhs and crores of rupees. At whose cost? At the cost of human beings, at the cost of people of Gujarat, at the cost of ecology.”
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