New Delhi, Oct 15 :
Taking a dim view of the snail’s pace at which the Ganga action plan for cleaning the 2,525-km-long river had progressed, the Supreme Court Wednesday said heads must roll for lack of headway as it pointed to systemic failure and that people on the ground were more interested in bribe than in their task.
“So many heads should roll for the failure to implement the plan. It was not being allowed to be done for corrupt means. This is happening because some people who are entrusted to do the work are not doing it. They are not doing it not because they don’t like it but are being bribed,” said a bench of Justice T.S. Thakur, Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice R. Banumathi.
The strong observation from the bench came as it was told that since 2007 only one sewage treatment plant was set up in Dehradun and repeated reminders from the Central Pollution Control Board to the State Pollution Control Boards in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal to act against grossly polluting industries have fallen on deaf ears.
“It has not happened for so many years. If it goes on like that it (Ganga cleaning) may not happen in our lifetime. You have to take preventive steps.A There has to be (fixing of) accountability,” said Justice Thakur.
The court said this as all through the hearing, Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar tried to push the task of cleaning Ganga on the five basin states of Uttrakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal as the central government had financed the project but the states were responsible for execution.
“You are the architects of the project to make Ganga pollution free,” the court told him as it wanted to know about the objectives the central government wanted to accomplish in the first phase of the action plan.
The court said that the first phase should commence with preventing the industrial waste from 764 grossly polluting industries from flowing into the river as it would take care of 30 percent of the most toxic industrial waste in it.
Expressing its dismay that Central Pollution Control Board was headless for last six months and in the charge of an additional secretary, the court asked the Solicitor General to tell the court where the appointment was struck and for which reason.
It also asked Solicitor General to inform the court the progress made on the steps taken by the government in three meeting held in September and October for making Ganga pollution free.
It also asked the CPCB to tell it what steps was taken by the pollution control boards in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal on the 222 grossly polluting units – 215 in Uttar Pradesh, one in Bihar and six in West Bengal which were identified by it.
Directing the next hearing of the matter Oct 29, the court asked the central government to file an affidavit with the information sought by it by Oct 27.
The court, throughout its two-hour-long hearing of the matter, repeatedly considered the option of setting up a committee that would assess the progress made in various steps taken by the government to make Ganga pollution free.
The committee considered by the court was on the line of Bhure Lal Committee that was set-up by the apex court to clear the residential areas of commercial activities and unauthorised constructions in the national capital.
The court said it even thought of having Bhure Lal, Delhi Metro former managing director E. Sreedharan and former Election Commissioner K.J. Rao on the committee being weighed by it but its only reluctance was asking such senior people, in terms of their age, to undertake such an arduous task.