Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding chromium dumps at Rania Kanpur Dehat and Rakhi Mandi, Kanpur Nagar, Uttar Pradesh, 16/07/2020

  • 16/07/2020

Order of the National Green Tribunal In Re : Water Pollution by Tanneries at Jajmau, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh WITH Original Application No. 986/2019 In Re : Water Pollution at Rania, Kanpur Dehat & Rakhi Mandi, Kanpur Nagar, Uttar Pradesh dated 16/07/2020. This order is being passed in continuation of order dated 15.11.2019.

This matter involves two issues. First issue relates to scientific disposal of Chromium dumps at Rania, Kanpur Dehat and Rakhi Mandi, Kanpur Nagar which have been in existence since 1976 and have inter-alia resulted in contamination of ground water, depriving the inhabitants of access to drinking water.

Second issue related to legality of order dated 08.08.2019 passed by the Principal Secretary, Urban Development, Uttar Pradesh allowing Jal Nigam, Kanpur permitting discharge of untreated sewage containing toxic Chromium directly into the River Ganga. Further issue is water pollution by tanneries discharging untreated industrial effluents containing toxic Chromium into the irrigation canal through inadequately functioning CETP at Jajmau.

The NGT in November 15, 2019 referring to the CPCB report of October 30, 2019 said that the chromium dumps containing toxic hexavalent chromium has been in existence since 1976 and requisite steps have not been taken so far to dispose of the same as per mandate of law. The fact remains that the problem has not been tackled for the last 43 years and it has resulted in contamination of ground water affecting the health and life of the inhabitants and fauna.

The state of Uttar Pradesh has to be held liable to pay compensation to the extent of Rs. 10 Crores for violation of law affecting the environment and public health for illegally permitting discharge of sewage and other effluent containing toxic Chromium directly into river Ganga, the NGT order of November 2019 said. The NGT also directed the Chief Secretary, Uttar Pradesh to file a compliance report.

A report was filed on behalf of the Chief Secretary, Uttar Pradesh on February 4, 2020 followed by a further report dated June 11, 2020. The CPCB filed its report on July 14, 2020.

The report of the Chief Secretary, Uttar Pradesh was that an action plan has been prepared for restoration of the environment and certain steps have been taken for supply of water to the inhabitants. Further report dated of June 2020 was that the matter of remediation is at the tender stage. The report of the CPCB was of a general nature, the court felt.

The fact remains that the chromium dump containing toxic chemicals has not been shifted to the treatment, storage, and disposal facility (TSDF) as required under the law for which failure of Uttar Pradesh was continuing inspite of repeated directions showing lack of sensitiveness on the part of the concerned officers, the NGT in its July 16 order said. Hazard to public health and environment continues. The process of remediation can only start only after shifting of the waste to operational TSDF.

Having regard to the seriousness of the consequences for continued delay on one pretext or other, the court directed the Chief Secretary, Uttar Pradesh to ensure prompt action on priority basis in a time bound manner which may be personally monitored by the Chief Secretary.

The Committee constituted by the tribunal headed by Justice S.V.S. Rathore, former Judge of the Allahabad High Court would also oversee the compliance of this direction and give its independent report. It was made clear that the Tribunal would have no other option except to take coercive measure for any further default by the State of Uttar Pradesh.