Pollution-free water fundamental right, state bound to ensure it: SC on Yamuna pollution

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde also issued notice to Haryana government on Delhi Jal Board’s plea alleging the water containing high pollutants is being released into the Yamuna.

Published: 14th January 2021 04:12 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th January 2021 10:05 AM   |  A+A-

Supreme Court

Supreme Court (File Photo| Shekhar Yadav, EPS)

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI:  Taking suo moto cognisance of issues relating to pollution in the Yamuna, the Supreme Court on Monday said pollution-free water is a fundamental right which a welfare state is ‘bound to ensure’.

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde also issued notice to Haryana government on Delhi Jal Board’s plea alleging the water containing high pollutants is being released into the Yamuna from Haryana.

Senior advocate Meenakshi Arora, appearing for the DJB, argued that the water released by Haryana into the Yamuna has pollutants including high ammonia content which become carcinogenic after mixing with Chlorine.

The DJB said that the sewage treatment plants (STPs) in Haryana don’t work causing high ammonia level and making the water unfit to drink. 

The DJB usually halts water supply in Delhi if the Ammonia content in the river rises. It recently moved the top court seeking direction to Haryana to ensure that pollutant-free water is released in the river.

“Yesterday, the level of ammonia was 6 and therefore, after an emergency meeting, we had to issue notices to 38 areas of north and south Delhi saying that there will be a shortage of water,” Arora submitted before the bench adding Ammonia when mixed with Chlorine will cause cancer.

“We cannot let the citizens die,” she said.

Arora said that Haryana has not taken any action despite several communications from the DJB requesting that steps be taken to stop the discharge of pollution into the Yamuna. 

“What should they do to reduce the pollutants,” the bench asked before fixing the plea for hearing on Tuesday.

It asked the DJB to serve the copy of the petition and the notice on Haryana for filing the response It asked the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to submit a report identifying municipalities along with the Yamuna which have not installed total treatment plants for sewage.

The bench also appointed Arora as amicus curiae in the case to assist it.

Widening the scope of judicial scrutiny of contamination of water to rivers across the country, the Supreme Court also issued notices to the Centre and four other states including Delhi.

The top court directed its Registry to register the suo moto case as ‘Remediation of polluted rivers’ and said it would first take up the contamination of the Yamuna river.

Delhi Jal Board Vice Chairman Raghav Chadha said that he was happy that the Supreme Court has issued a notice to the Haryana government.

“The high levels of ammonia has a deep impact on DJB’s  water production and treatment capacity. Our water treatment plants at Wazirabad and Chandrawal are operating at 50% capacity due to increased levels of ammonia,” Chadha stated.


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