The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Delhi government to comply with the orders passed by the Supreme Court in 2019 on the issue of levy of sewage charge for residents in Delhi, in a pending case concerning the rejuvenation of River Yamuna. The order was passed on July 6 by a Bench headed by NGT Chairman Justice AK Goel.
The Bench directed the compliance of these orders to levy the sewage charge on the basis of the “polluter pays” principle. The Tribunal noted that despite a grim situation as regards the health of the river, the regulatory authorities had failed to apply the polluter pays principle.
“The Delhi Government may forthwith comply with the order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court dated 24.10.2019 on the subject of levy and recovery of the sewage charges.”
The NGT has now noted that in the process of rejuvenation, the major problem continues to be pollution caused by the discharge of sewage, industrial effluents and other pollutants.
“If Yamuna is to be rejuvenated such discharges either directly or through drains need to be stopped.”
In addition to the rejuvenation of river Yamuna, the issue of floodplains and removal of encroachment from these areas are also areas of concern on which the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) “has to own the responsibility in an effective manner,” the Tribunal added.
Further, the Tribunal rejected the submission made by the DDA in sewage charge that a dedicated specialised agency for protection of floodplains and restoration purpose cannot be set up. Calling this stand “untenable”, the NGT said further,
“A dedicated agency needs to be in place which can focus on issues relating to the Yamuna rejuvenation and also involve the civil society or such other experts/institutions as may be found necessary for ecological restoration of the flood plain zones, setting up of bio-diversity parks, artificial wetlands, phyto-remediation of drains at the river mouth locations, maintaining the vigil and undertaking flow measurement, creating ecological services, removing encroachments and undertaking other activities, including river front development.”
The Court has directed the States of Delhi, UP, and Haryana to comply with the recommendations made by the Yamuna Monitoring Committee (YMC) and asked YMC itself to continue monitoring the situation and compliance of its recommendations.
The Court will hear the matter next in January 2021.