NEW DELHI: The National Green Tribunal Tuesday directed the Uttar Pradesh chief secretary to hold a meeting with all District Magistrates to prepare a uniform action plan for identification and protection of water bodies.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said encroachment on water bodies is a serious issue and this needs attention of the authorities at the state level and special plan and drive is necessary.
"It is high time that the issue is seriously addressed. We also find that the authorities are stuck up in cumbersome procedure of revenue law without invoking prompt and summary procedure of environmental law," the bench also comprising Justice S K Singh said.
The NGT said there is no monitoring at higher level and a conscious decision needs to be taken in this regard at higher levels of the administration and if found necessary, powers need to be given to the Forest Department or the District Magistrate or any suitable department which can promptly retrieve the water bodies.
"In view of the above and having regard to the significance of the issue and failure of the authorities so far in performing their public trust obligation, we direct the Chief Secretary, UP to hold a meeting with all District Magistrates by video conferencing within one month from today to address the issue and to prepare a uniform action plan applicable throughout State of UP for identification and protection of water bodies," the bench said.
The NGT said the action taken by state pollution control board is neither adequate nor in right direction and it appears that the concerned officers are not conversant with the law of the land which is resulting in serious damage to the environment.
"Water bodies are the life line of the environment for ground water recharge, storage of water for different purposes, for micro climate, aesthetics, etc," it said.
The tribunal also asked the Monitoring Committee headed by Justice SVS Rathore, former Judge of the Allahabad High Court, to monitor compliance and furnish its independent report in the matter by e-mail.
The direction came after perusing a report filed by District Magistrate of Ghaziabad stating that large number of water bodies were encroached.
Percentage of encroached water bodies is around 72.90 per cent (183 water bodies).
Action has been initiated under Section 67 of the UP Revenue Code, 2006.
Only 49 out of 261 water bodies are free from encroachment in Ghaziabad District, the report said.
The green panel was hearing a plea filed by Ghaziabad resident Sushil Raghav alleging that water bodies are being diverted in Ghaziabad for industrial purposes in violation of law.