Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding pollution of Ban Ganga river, Katra, Jammu & Kashmir, 10/05/2023

  • 10/05/2023

Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of Himanshu Sharma Vs Union Territory of J&K dated 10/05/2023.

Grievance in the application was against failure of the concerned authorities to take action to prevent pollution of Ban Ganga river at Katra in Jammu & Kashmir. It is stated that the river is a source of drinking water for the inhabitants of the town but is polluted by discharge of effluents and dumping of garbage in violation of the Water Act, 1974, the Air Act, 1981 and the Environment  Act, 1986. The authorities have not taken any action in the matter in spite of large-scale media reporting.

The NGT, December 14, 2021 had sought a factual and action taken report from the J&K State Pollution Control Board and the Municipal Council, Katra.

The action taken report filed by the SPCB acknowledged the violations. It was found that there was huge piled up garbage and discharge of untreated municipal waste in Ban Ganga river for which remedial action was required.

The report filed by the Housing and Urban Development Departmentof Jammu & Kashmir, July 15, 2022 said that execution of comprehensive plan  has already been prepared for solid waste management for Katra town at a cost of Rs. 8.49 crore which includes collection and transportation of waste and setting up of material recovery facility at village Kundrorian, Tantalab, Katra. Further, remediation of legacy waste remains pending as the proposal involves a cost of Rs. 4.85 crores under Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM).

The report also mentioned that Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB) has removed 357.70 MT of garbage. Remaining waste from bank of river Ban Ganga is to be removed.

An updated report was filed by the Housing and Urban Development Department, J&K on January 23, 2023. Among other things, the report mentioned that in order to ensure cleanliness of river Banganga, the Shrine Board, in the first phase, has constructed a box culvert covering a total stretch of 100 mtrs connecting three nallas and 6 drains, having maximum discharge capacity of 35 lakh liters of water per day. As a result, there has been substantial cleanliness in the bathing ghat area at Banganga.

The NGT noted that the waste processing facility for 38 TPD solid waste is yet to be operationalized, legacy waste is yet to be remediated and sewage treatment facilities are yet to come up though the same have been planned. The court directed taking of necessary measures and filing of a status report as on August 31, 2023 by September 15, 2023.