New Delhi: With the festive season soon approaching, the National Green Tribunal today passed a slew of directions to prevent pollution of the Yamuna river including a ban on immersion of idols except those made from bio-degradable material.
"Idol immersion should be allowed only of the ones which are made from bio-degradable material and not plastic/plaster of Paris. Only those colours should be used on the idols which are environment-friendly," a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said.
Favouring designated sites for immersion of idols, the tribunal directed the Irrigation Department of the Delhi government and Uttar Pradesh to hold a meeting with the Vice Chairman of Delhi Development Authority to "immediately identify" such sites during the festive season.
"The above committee would also report as to whether the nine ghats to be provided and maintained by the respective corporations have been constructed and are being maintained regularly.
"Whether such ghats currently have mechanism in place for ensuring that material does not flow into the river but is collected and recycled. It may be by use of mesh or by providing separate channel of water, as already directed by the tribunal," the bench said.
The tribunal directed the authorities concerned to notify and publicise about immersion of idols on ghats to enable the people know about the identified sites for immersion.
It has also ordered all the public authorities including the Delhi government to provide mobile toilets or bio-toilets near the ghats.
The green panel also directed that "no commercial or construction activity by use of machines or otherwise, except floriculture and silviculture (regeneration of forests) would be allowed to be carried on by any of the authorities, particularly Delhi Development Authority".
The bench has asked DDA to ensure maintenance of nearly 63.56 hectare of "river banks/flood plains" which have been developed as biodiversity parks.
On industrial units causing pollution and discharging effluents in Yamuna, it asked Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee to take appropriate steps against such industries and report to the tribunal.
"All the authorities i.E., DDA, municipal corporations, police and administration of NCT of Delhi would fully coordinate with each other to ensure compliance of these directions," the tribunal said.
During the hearing, advocates Balendu Shekhar and Om Prakash urged the tribunal to direct various NGOs and other institutions located on banks of Yamuna to donate money for cleaning of the river.
Citing Mata Amritanandamayi Devi's example, who has recently announced to donate Rs 100 crore towards the Prime Minister's "Namami Gange" project, they asked the tribunal to pass directions in this regard.
The bench passed the order after taking into account the deliberations which emerged in a meeting, held on September 14, with the chairman of the Principal Committee, Delhi Chief Secretary, pollution control boards, chairman of various corporations and authorities, Vice Chairman of DDA and others.
The tribunal had in January constituted a Principal Committee which would be responsible for implementation of the 'Maili se Nirmal Yamuna Revitalisation Project 2017'.
The committee consists of secretary of the environment and forests ministry, joint secretary of the ministry of water resources, chief secretary of Delhi, vice-chairman DDA, commissioners of all corporations and the secretaries of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
Irked by the blame game by various departments within the state, the tribunal had earlier imposed a fine of Rs one lakh on Delhi government for not following its orders on implementation of "Maili se Nirmal Yamuna Revitalisation Project 2017".
Cracking the whip on those polluting Yamuna, it had passed a slew of directions including a fine of Rs 5,000 on individuals spotted throwing waste or religious items and a fine of Rs 50,000 on anyone caught dumping construction material in the river.