Expressing the need for urgent action, Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, chairperson of National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Saturday said one of the three critically polluted river stretches flowing through Gujarat is equivalent to poison.
“More than 351 river stretches in the country have Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) limits that exceed the prescribed limit of 3 mg/litre. In Gujarat, Amla Khadi river which is a tributary of Narmada has a BOD limit of minimum 43 mg/litre. This is pure poison, “Justice Goel said at the Gujarat National Law University (GNLU).
“How bad do you think is the situation of Sabarmati river, where Mahatma Gandhi once lived? From the (80 kilometres) stretch between Kheroj to Vautha, the BOD levels range between 4 to 147 mg/litre. Similarly, in Damanganga river, the BOD level between Kachigaon to Vapi (30 kilometres) is 8 mg/litre. These are the three most polluted rivers where immediate action is required,” he added.
These three river stretches are among the 15 most-polluted river stretches identified across the country by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). The agency also said, there are around 20 rivers in Gujarat where the BOD levels were above the prescribed standards.
According to NGT chief, untreated effluents and sewage being dumped into the rivers were the major sources of pollution in these rivers. He said that the tribunal had conducted an interaction with the state government officials regarding the pollution in the rivers. “They have sought time and said they needed funds,” he added.
When asked about the action that needs to be taken, Justice Goel said that polluting industries have to be banned. “They have no right to do it at the cost of the life of people. It is a criminal offence under the Water Act. How can broad day crimes happen in the country,” he said. In his speech, the NGT chief also pointed out how over Rs 20,000 crore has been spent on cleaning the Yamuna till now and only little has been done.