July 19th, 2017
Courtesy: The Times of India, Hindustan Times | Image Credit: Hindustan Times
The Supreme Court has directed two municipal bodies and an association of industries to pay Rs 96 crore for polluting the Ulhas River in Thane, Mumbai – vacating a Bombay High Court order that had put on hold the penalty.
In October 2015, the HC had stayed the order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that directed Dombivli Industries Association (DBESA), Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Corporation, Ambernath Municipal Council, the Ulhasnagar Municipal Corporation, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) and the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) to cumulatively deposit Rs 96 crore in an escrow account for the restitution and restoration of the Ulhas and Waldhuni rivers, reported The Times of India.
On 5 July 2017, the apex court passed an order, which was made public on Monday, staying the HC’s judgement. It has given the civic bodies and the industries two options – either file a review with the NGT or take the matter directly to the Supreme Court, within three weeks.
The issue had come to light in 2012, when an NGO, Vanashakti filed a petition with the NGT, urging it to shut polluting industries discharging untreated wastewater into the Ulhas River as it was a blatant violation of environmental rules.
Following the NGT 2015 order in favour of the NGO, the government agencies moved the Bombay HC, which stayed the tribunal’s order. Challenging this, Vanashakti moved the SC, which said, “We find no reasonable ground to entertain such apprehension (by the HC),” as reported by Hindustan Times. “The impugned order is set aside… The appeals stand disposed of,” added the order by SC bench of justice Arun Mishra and justice Amitava Roy.
Stalin Dayanand, director of Vanashakti said in a Facebook post, “Almost 5 years since this battle began.The polluters used all their money, political clout and muscle power to stop us. Despite the NGT passing a well reasoned and detailed judgement, it was stalled by the High Court. High profile lawyers ensured that the judicial delays ensued and allowed the killing of the river with each passing day. But God has his own plans and nothing will stop us from doing our duty. Thanks especially to Ashwin Aghor for the ground work. Polluting your river is nothing short of TREASON and all who help it to continue are equally guilty. The battle continues, it’s been a long hard journey but we are grateful and thankful to the Hon’ble Supreme Court for understanding the gravity of the issue.”
The Logical Indian community commends the efforts taken by NGO Vanashakti for preventing further damage to Ulhas river. The Supreme Court’s order was crucial and the penalty imposed will be beneficial for the river’s restoration.