Coming down heavily on states for not complying with waste management rules, National Green Tribunal Chairman Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel on Wednesday said “pollution is no less an offence than murder or rape”.
“The world is taking it (pollution) so seriously. We are not. I am sorry to tell you that no state in the whole country is compliant with the rules and regulations of waste management. No shortage of funds can be given (as an excuse),” Justice Goel said at an event organised by the Gujarat government to mark the World Environment Day celebrations in the state. He also pointed out that cities like Ahmedabad have huge garbage dumps.
Speaking in the presence of Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and his two cabinet colleagues who handle the environment portfolio, the NGT chief said, “Six lakh people die every year in India due to diseases caused by air pollution, ranging from asthma to cancer, of which 50,000 are from Gujarat.”
Pointing out that the environment once damaged, cannot be restored, Justice Goel said, “Pollution is no less an offence than murder or rape. So let us be aware of the consequences.” Pointing out that a person causing pollution is as unsafe as the others, he said rapid urbanisation and industrialisation were adding to the pressure on limited natural resources.
“We can make money. But at whose cost? Are we going to create wealth over dead bodies,” he asked the audience who gathered at the Gujarat University Convention Hall to launch the “world’s first emission trading scheme on particulate matter”. The scheme gives incentives to industrial units to cut down on air pollution.
Narrating how India’s ancient vedic culture spoke about earth, rivers, trees and wildlife being worshipped, Justice Goel said, “There will have to be zero tolerance if air quality deteriorates beyond a point. Do anything to stop the pollution and if somebody goes beyond the norms, then do not tolerate, put him behind the bars, punish him.”
CM Vijay Rupani said the state government plans to plant 10 crore trees and is laying a “deep-sea” pipeline to carry effluents from Ankleshwar, Vadodara, Ahmedabad, Vatva and Jetpur.