Action sought against officials over Thamirabarani river pollution

Muthuraman sought directions to initiate legal action against the authorities of PWD and TNPCB for the human rights violation.

Published: 14th May 2022 02:59 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th May 2022 02:59 AM   |  A+A-

The view of the Thamirabarani River at Papanasam temple | Express

Express News Service

THOOTHUKUDI: Contending that polluting a waterbody amounts to a violation of human rights, environmentalists have urged the National and State Human Rights Commissions to initiate legal action against the officials of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) and Public Works Department (PWD), who have allegedly permitted discharge of untreated sewage wastes into Thamirabarani River over the years.

In a recent judgement on a petition filed seven years ago, the Special Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) headed by Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel observed that despite spending Rs 52 crore under the National River Conservation Project, 80% of sewage was still getting mixed with the Thamirabarani water. It may be noted that the NGT while hearing the case on June 8, 2021, had mentioned the TNIE report titled, "Thamirabarani river crying for attention on World Environment Day".

Environment activist SP Muthuraman, who had filed the petition seven years ago, told TNIE that the tribunal's final order held that the officials concerned had failed to ensure the availability of safe water for the public.

"Polluting a water body must be treated as arbitrary and contrary to public interests, and a violation of the right to clean water under Article 21 of the Constitution. The Supreme Court had observed in the Subhash Kumar Vs State of Bihar case that the right to live includes the right to enjoy pollution-free water and air," he said.

"Town Panchayat Tirunelveli zone Assistant Director had admitted in the affidavit submitted to the court that domestic wastewater from eight town panchayats was being discharged into the Kannadiyan irrigation channel, to buttress the fact that the waste does not enter the mainstream river. However, section 24 of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, prohibits the use of streams for disposing of polluting matter. Thamirabarani River is under the control of the PWD, and the TNPCB is entitled to initiate action against those polluting it. Section 43 of the Water Act dictates punishment with imprisonment, and section 49 dictates initiation of criminal proceedings against government officials who fail to act upon such violations. But, no action has been taken against any official so far," Muthuraman added.

In a complaint to the State Human Rights Commissions (SHRC), Muthuraman sought directions to initiate legal action against the authorities of PWD and TNPCB for the human rights violation. "Also, an advanced 'zero liquid discharge' approach must be adopted along the Thamirabarani river basin from Papanasam to Punnakayal," he appealed to the State government.


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