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NGT on Ganga rejuvenation
Jul 18, 2017

On July 13, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) prohibited dumping of waste within 500 metres of the Ganga while declaring an area of 100 metres from the edge of the Ganga between Haridwar and Unnao as ‘No Development Zone’. It also imposed an environment compensation of Rs. 50,000 for dumping waste in the river.

  • The verdict came on a 1985 PIL petition of environment activist and lawyer M.C. Mehta, which was transferred to the NGT from the Supreme Court in 2014.  
  • The Tribunal directed the Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand governments to formulate guidelines for religious activities on the ghats of the Ganga and its tributaries.
  • The Bench further noted that indiscriminate groundwater extraction at all industrial units in the catchment areas of the Ganga should be stopped.
  • The court reiterated its earlier order while stating that no in-stream mechanical mining is permitted even mining on the floodplain should be semi-mechanical.

In-Stream Mining: It involves the mechanical removal of gravel and sand directly from the active channel of rivers and streams. Active channel deposits are desirable as construction aggregate because they are durable, well sorted and located near markets. In-stream mining commonly results in opening of the channel bed, which can spread upstream and downstream as well. While in-stream gravel mining can be a useful tool in flood control and river stabilization, most rivers in the developed world are not aggrading and are becoming more prone to incision-related effects of in-stream gravel mining.

National Green Tribunal

Established under the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010, the NGT is a statutory judicial body that functions on the basis of ‘principles of natural justice’. The act authorizes the tribunal to decide on matters that involve ‘a substantial question relating to the environment’ and impose penalty on ‘polluter pays principle’. The tribunal is headquartered in Delhi with four regional branches in Kolkata, Bhopal, Pune and Chennai.

India is the third country in the world to have a full-fledged green tribunal after Australia and New Zealand.

NGT on Tanneries 

  • The tribunal warned that the tanneries at Jajmau, Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh would be shut down and relocated if the tribunal’s directions to restore the river are not strictly followed.
  • Alarming levels of Arsenic, Cadmium, Mercury, Nickel and Chromium VI used in production cycle at tanneries have been found in the Ganga near Kanpur and Unnao.
  • According to the World Health Organisation, these heavy metals have a lethal impact on public health when they enter the food/ water chain. Cadmium is a potent kidney toxicant and Mercury is a potent neurological toxicant. Chromium VI is a known human carcinogen. 
  • At Jajmau, these heavy metals have contaminated the underground water streams and are having a devastating impact on environment and public health. 

PT Facts

  • NGT was established under the NGT Act, 2010. It functions under the principle of ‘Natural Justice’.
  • India is the third country in the world to have a full-fledged green tribunal after Australia and New Zealand.
  • Diseases caused by heavy metals include Minamata by Mercury, Itai-Itai by Cadmium, Nickel Itch by Nickel, Black-foot disease by Arsenic and respiratory distress by Chromium VI.


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