Functional sewage treatment plants in Garhmukteshwar area of Uttar Pradesh do not operate as the domestic sewage network is not connected to the main sewerage system, an experts’ panel has told the NGT. The Garhmukteshwar stretch of the Ganga should also receive special attention as it was the habitat of the critically-endangered Gangetic Dolphin, an indicator species for the river’s ecosystem, the three-member committee told the National Green Tribunal (NGT) which set it up. “We feel that the state government needs to put in place an effective system to ensure the integration of the household sewage with the main sewerage system. Unless this is done, we will be in a situation where a sewerage system is in place, the STP has been made operational and yet not a drop of sewage is treated simply because there is lack of connectivity between the different components.
“This needs immediate and time bound action so as to ensure the effectiveness of the cleaning of the river Ganga,” the panel said.
The committee, comprising a Director from Ministry of Water Resources, a scientist from the Central Pollution Control Board and advocate and local commisioner Ritwick Dutta, was set upto inspect the status of sewage treatment plants (STPs) in Garhmukteshwar.
“The tribunal may direct the concerned agencies to present the action plan and progress of implementation of programme for the protection of Gangetic Dolphin. In particular, it should focus on the threats to the population on account of pollution and other related factors and measures to deal with the same,” it said.
On the 58-km long sewerage line project in Garh, the panel said the “entire project is far from completion” and there was no “road map” with regard to its time-frame.
“In case the sewerage lines are to be made fully operational, it will entail considerable expenditure and effort. It also appeared that there was no road map which lays down the time frame within which the sewerage line will be operational,” the committee said.
The panel also told the NGT that the STP at Brijghat drain in Garhmukteshwar has been made operational, but it was not functional as no untreated sewage was being supplied to the STP and as a result the entire facility is lying idle.
“This is nothing but wastage of public funds with no benefit to the environment or the public,” it said.
With regard to the STP at Garh, the panel has supported the location of the plant and said that it would not recommend the location of the STP of Garh near the river since the “transit of pollutants” over a distance of 4-5 kms would pollute ground water and agricultural land.
Earlier, the bench had ordered a CBI probe into the execution of the Ganga cleaning project after it noted that Rs 31.82 crore was spent on two STPs and a 58-km long sewerage line project without due analysis and verification of the actual pollution load in the Garh drain and Brijghat drain.
NGT had slammed the state’s Jal Nigam for building the STPs on the drains joining Ganga without any survey and said it had wasted Rs 1500 crore since 1987 and still not cleaned “even a single drop” of the river.