New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal directed all coastal states and Union territories on Tuesday to submit action plan to the Central Pollution Control Board to prevent sewage and industrial effluents from being discharged in sea.
The green panel directed that the relevant information be furnished to the CPCB within one month from Tuesday, failing which defaulting states and UTs will be liable to pay Rs 10 lakh each month till compliance.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said the CPCB report about the status of compliance with regard to pollution laws in all coastal areas in the country, particularly with regard to discharge of untreated and industrial and municipal effluents and solid waste, is incomplete.
“Accordingly, we direct the CPCB to submit a comprehensive status report which regard to coastal pollution by way of classification of coastal areas in priority-I to V within three months positively,” the bench said.
The NGT further directed that a copy of this order be sent to all chief secretaries and state pollution control boards of all coastal states – Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Odisha, Lakshadweep, Daman and Diu, Gujarat, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Andaman and Nicobar, Puducherry and CPCB by email.
The tribunal said it is necessary to ensure that water at the beaches remains fit for bathing and survival of aquatic life, fishing and contact sports in accordance with seawater criteria in terms of directions of the CPCB.
It noted that India has a coastline of about 7,555 km, of which about 5,400 km belong to peninsular India and the remaining to the Andaman and Nicobar, and the Lakshadweep Islands.
“With less than 0.25 per cent of the world coastline, India houses 63 million people, approximately 11 per cent of global population living in low-lying coastal areas. The coast also includes 77 cities, including some of the largest and most dense urban agglomerations – Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Kochi and Visakhapatnam,” the bench, also comprising Justice S P Wangdi and Justice K Ramakrishnan, noted.
The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by Lt Gen (retd) Sarvadaman Singh Oberoi seeking direction to formulate an action plan to restore seawater quality along the Indian coastal areas.
It has referred to a CPCB report on ‘Classification of Indian Coasts and Conflicts’ (1982-86) referring to marine pollution by sewage and other discharge in violation of environment laws.
According to the applicant, certain coastal areas are critically polluted on account of dumping of sewerage and waste.
“Over 80 per cent of marine pollution is from land-based sources – industrial, agricultural and urban. Municipal sewage is the main source of pollution. Aquaculture Authority, Government of India, has issued guidelines that aquafarms having area of five hectares and above should have effluent treatment system.
Discharge of untreated sewage and effluents in sea is continuing in large scale,” the plea said.