AFTER REPRIMANDING the state government for “poor management” of the Ulhas and Waldhuni rivers, the Supreme Court has now pulled it up for not doing enough to eliminate pollution from the Mithi river.
In an order dated August 16, the court directed that a joint team be set up by the directors of IIT-Powai and the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur, to look into the pollution of Mithi river. The order emphasised on making efforts to avoid the occurrence of another flood like the one in 2005.
The team will also look into the steps taken by the state and the government authorities to eliminate the pollution.
The court added that despite the July 26, 2005, floods in Mumbai, which claimed over 1,000 like, “no effective steps appear to have been taken by anybody in the state of Maharashtra, including some of the statutory authorities, to remedy the situation in spite of the fact that a little more than 12 years have gone by.” As per the court order, the directors of the two organisations will nominate experts for the team, who will then prepare a report on the extent of damage caused to the Mithi river and decide the future course of action accordingly. The report has to be presented in court within three months. The court has also sought the Maharashtra government or the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) to deposit an amount of Rs 50 lakh in the Supreme Court Registry within two weeks. The money will be used by the joint committee.
Satish Gavai, additional chief secretary in the Department of Environment of the Government of Maharashtra and the secretary of the SEIAA, has been appointed as the convenor of the Committee.
In 2014, city NGOs — Jalbiradri and Vanashakti — had approached the National Green Tribunal (NGT) with regard to the degradation of the Mithi river. Last year, the tribunal had imposed a Rs 25-lakh fine on Mumbai Metropolitan Region and Development Authority for “causing environmental degradation” while widening of the river. Seeking relief, the MMRDA had then approached the apex Court. The matter will next be heard on October 10, 2017.