NGT directs states, UTs to designate nodal agency for restoration of water bodies
NGT also directed all the Centre Monitoring Committees formed for monitoring remediation of 351 polluted river stretches to monitor the steps for restoration of water bodies by all the states periodically, at least thrice in a year.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed all states and Union Territories (UTs) to designate a nodal agency wherever no such agency has so far been designated for the restoration of water bodies.
It further directed that under the oversight of chief secretaries of States/UTs, the designated nodal agency may hold its meeting on January 31, 2021, to take stock of the situation and plan further steps, including directions to district authorities for further course of action up to Panchayat levels and to evolve further monitoring mechanism as well as Grievance Redressal Mechanism (GRM).
Thereafter, a regular meeting maybe held for periodic monitoring at the district level as well as the state level with the identified targets of proper and scientific identification and protection of all water bodies, assigning a unique identification number, removing encroachments, preventing dumping of waste, maintaining water quality and restoration by taking other appropriate steps, involving the Panchayats and the community, utilising the financial resources available from different sources, it directed.
The judgment ordered that the periodical reports to the CPCB/Secretary Jal Shakti, Government of India should be submitted on or before February 28, 2021.
NGT also directed all the Centre Monitoring Committees formed for monitoring remediation of 351 polluted river stretches to monitor the steps for restoration of water bodies by all the states periodically, at least thrice in a year. The first for monitoring may take place by March 31, 2021, it said.
A bench headed by NGT chairperson justice A K Goel with justice Sheo Kumar Singh, judicial member Satyawani Garbyal, expert member Nagin Nanda stated that protection of water bodies serves a great public purpose and is essential for the protection of the environment.
Under the Public Trust Doctrine, the state has to act as trustee of the water bodies to protect them for the public use and enjoyment for current and future generations, it pointed out.
The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by petitioner Haryana resident Lt Col (retd) Sarvadaman Singh Oberoi seeking to restore Ghata Lake in Gurgaon besides restoration of 214 other water bodies and natural channels in the district and similar water bodies in Faridabad.
However, the tribunal had expanded the petition to the entire country in the interest of protection of the environment.
It may be mentioned that for Manipur, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) report of October 29 before the NGT has identified four lakes and 14 ponds in the state but no restoration work has been taken up.
The NGT also assigned the State Wetland Authority the task of protection of all water bodies in addition to the normal functioning of the State Wetland Authority under the Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017.