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Central monitoring panel to enforce plan to clean polluted river stretches

Panaji: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has formed a Central Monitoring Committee to prepare and enforce a national plan to make 350 polluted river stretches across the country including 11 river stretches in Goa pollution-free.

Various state governments are allegedly lax and have submitted incomplete action plans. The River Rejuvenation Committee of Goa constituted by the state’s environment department has however submitted action plans to the CPCB on nine identified polluted river stretches out of the eleven.

The department has appointed Pune-based M/s Unity IE as consultant to prepare the detailed action plan on river rejuvenation.

A Bench headed by National Green Tribunal (NGT) chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, K Ramakrishnan and Dr Nagin Nanda said the central committee would comprise a representative of NITI Aayog; secretaries of Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Urban Development and Ministry of Environment; the director general of National Mission for Clean Ganga and the Central Pollution Control Board chairman.

The Central Monitoring Committee will also co-ordinate with the River Rejuvenation Committees of the states and oversee the execution of the action plans, taking into account the timelines, budgetary mechanism and other factors. Chief Secretaries of the states will be the nodal persons at the state level.

“The chief secretaries of the states may undertake review of progress of RRCs by involving concerned secretaries of department of Urban Development, Environment, Industries, Irrigation and Public Health, Health etc,” the Bench said.

The NGT has directed the Central Monitoring Committee to submit its report by July 31.

“The committee may assume its charge within two weeks. First meeting of the Central Monitoring Committee may be held by June 30. The committee may prepare action plan which shall have targets of ensuring compliance. It may meet at such intervals as considered appropriate but twice in every month and fix targets for compliance,” the Bench said.

The Bench has also directed the CPCB and state pollution control boards to launch nationwide programme on biodiversity monitoring and indexing of the rivers to access the efficacy of river cleaning programme. It has also asked to conduct regular hygienic surveys of the rivers with reference to fecal coliform and fecal streptococci, for safety of human health and maintaining sanctity of the rivers.

The tribunal has also directed the Ministry of Environment to consider a policy for giving environmental awards to outstanding persons (natural and juristic) and institutions or states and introducing “dis-incentives” for non compliant states and asked it to frame such scheme before June 30.

The court has also extended the timeline for defaulter states till June 30 to submit action plans who have not still been furnished for Priority-III, Priority-IV and Priority-V rivers stretches.

The Bench has also accepted the suggestions of CPCB to extend the timeline for execution of action plans to the extent that upper limit for execution of the action plans will be two years from April 2019 which will be monitored by chief secretary as well as CPCB. [NT]

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