Supreme Court calls for reports on treatment of discharged trade effluent to save the Yamuna
Author- Divya Morandani
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Treatment of discharged trade effluent – to save the Yamuna
The environment is the subject matter of broad interpretation, on one side of the scale it includes the right to clean air, water and surroundings to live in less or controlled polluted ecosystems and on the other side, we have the right to access the resource, to walk towards development and operate industries. The balance among prevention of pollution of any natural resource and utilization of that is our responsibility, as we owe a duty to public health, biodiversity including all living species and organisms. The petition filed in the Supreme Court is regarding prevention of ammonia discharge and other trade effluents in the river Yamuna from the industries located in Haryana, this polluted water is diverted in states of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. As the problem of water pollution in the present case is well defined, so to tackle the concern of human and other living organisms health depending upon the quality of water, the solution is to install sewage treatment plants by the States and regular controlling, monitoring and managing the function of plants by the Municipalities located alongside the River.
The present order pertains to water pollution caused in the Yamuna due to increasing in the level of ammonia level, the direct effects of which is the significant harm to individuals residing in the vicinity and other creatures relying on open surface water. The ethical principle to be focused here is their equilibrium in the development of our nation and how humans are fulfilling their utilities of daily life. Subsequently, there is an increase in the manifestation of availing the benefits and developing the civilization but a decrease of gratitude and responsibility we owe to the natural resources.
Modernization including human lifestyle and their perspective of development by operating huge number of industries and factory units has somewhere triggered the demand of fresh water, but consequently, there is the discharge of sewage effluents which are hazardous to the ecosystem. Similarly, the concern in the present case is about discomfort caused to human health and species living in water due to no treatment of effluents before it gets discharged in water.
The right to live with human dignity is a wide domain under Article 21 of the Indian constitution which includes, right to clean environment (fresh air, water and surroundings). Also, before the existence of The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, the duty of individuals and the states to prevent any kind of environmental pollution has been imbibed in the Indian constitution. It is predominant that consumption of freshwater is a basic need of all the living creatures, Right to Clean Environment - A basic Human Right.
Article 47 states,
the states must promote a rise in the level of nutrition and public health, and it is a primary duty to restrict the consumption of any substance including water which causes health risks.
Article 48A strives for protecting and improving the environment including wildlife, flora and fauna.
The Water Act precisely defines pollution under Section 2(e) as any sort of alteration done to a water body which causes a physical, chemical and biological change in properties of water, also it includes the direct or indirect discharge of any trade effluent, sewage in such proportion that makes consumption and usage of water harmful to public health, activities related to agriculture, commercial purpose and lives of species (plants and animals) living in the water.
The ground on which the court passed the order for "remediation of polluted rivers'' could be contemplated by referring Article 243W of the Indian constitution, where the onus lies on Municipalities and other local authorities to manage and improve matters related to public health, sanitation and solid waste management.
Also, the court relied on Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti industry CETP Supreme Court Judgement, as it was held that, it is the responsibility of the state to compute towns, district and villages affected due to discharge of sewage effluents not treated, moreover court provided the validation by stating that, municipalities and other local governing authorities cannot be exempted from the duty to set up "common effluent treatment plant" and "sewage treatment plants''.
In Narbada Bachao Andolan case, the court pointed out the resolution singed during united nation water conference, that irrespective of economic position and stage of development, every citizen of the nation have right to clean drinking water and fulfil their utilities with quality of water River-pollution-Supreme Court order.
To conclude, the order passed by the court in the present case to prevent discharge of sewage effluent without treatment and increase in level Ammonia in Yamuna River is in harmonization with all the legislative provisions incorporated in India.
The states must monitor and control the sewage treatment plants installed are functional, whether the industries located in a particular district or town have linked their outlet to treatment plants. Hence, the issuance of suo moto civil writ petition and ordered the Central Pollution Control Board concerning contamination of the river, to provide the reports mentioning the municipalities and any other local authority alongside the river, in charge of installation and proper functioning of treatment plants.