Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding disposal of untreated sewage by Municipal Board, Pokaran polluting river Tolaberi and agricultural land, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, 11/07/2023
Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of Bhoma Ram Mali & Others Vs State of Rajasthan & Others dated 11/07/2023.
Six farmers and owners of agricultural land situated at tehsil Pokaran, district Jaisalmer, Rajasthan filed an application before the NGT regarding sewage waste polluting their land.
The report filed by the joint committee comprising Collector, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan State Pollution Control Board and Municipal Council, Pokaran said that domestic waste water generated from Pokaran city is disposed through open nalla and sewerage system which ultimately meet the natural catchment area of Tolaberi river, which finally gets accumulated near the khatedari land of Bhomaram Mali, one of the applicant. In the monsoon season, domestic waste water and storm water travels upto Rann area of Pokaran.
During inspection, domestic sewage was found in the surface runoff storm water accumulated in the natural catchment area of river Tolaberi which turns towards the downstream side to Rann area (salty land) adjoining the land of the petitioner.
As per the available records, consent to establish for installation /lying of sewerage network in compliance with SPCB's categorization dated May 26, 2016 has not been obtained by Municipal Board Pokaran. However the sewer network was laid by Municipal Board Pokaran in 2011- 12.
The joint committee report also mentioned that the representative of the Municipal Board, Pokaran said that currently they does not have any provision for construction of sewage treatment plant and sewage generated from the city area is disposed through partial sewerage line through 9 old open drains existing in town which meets the seasonal Tolaberi river catchment area without any treatment. The untreated sewage after accumulation at petitioner land travels downstream to Rann area in Pokaran town.
A report filed by the RSPCB said that the regional officer has proposed environment compensation of Rs 65,75,000 upon Municipal Board, Pokaran for discharge of untreated waste/sewage in river Tolaberi which ultimately gets accumulated on the applicants land damaging agricultural land and soil of the applicants and also surface as well as ground water.
The bench of Justice Sudhir Agarwal said that "the law is well settled that no discharge of untreated sewage is permissible in any stream unless requisite treatment is made and the water quality is improved as per the prescribed standards under the provision of Water Act, 1974 and if any person commits, breach, besides acting under Water Act, 1974, it is also liable to pay environmental compensation on the principle of Polluter Pays".
The NGT directed the Municipal Board, Pokaran to pay environmental compensation of Rs 65,75,000 and deposit the amount with RSPCB within two months. Municipal Board, Pokaran was also ordered not to discharge any untreated sewer (municipal and domestic) in river Tolaberi or on any open area.
The court also directed the applicant to be paid Rs 20 lakhs by the Rajasthan State Pollution Control Board from the amount of environmental compensation deposited by the Municipal Board, Pokaran. The remaining amount of compensation shall be utilized by the RSPCB for restoration of the environment as per restoration plan. In this regard, an action plan shall be prepared by a Joint Committee comprising RSPCB, Collector, Jaisalmer and DFO, Jaisalmer within two months.