Set nodal agency to protect water bodies: NGT to states

NGT directs states, UTs to designate nodal agency for protection of water bodies

The NGT bench noted that the concerned authorities had failed to take adequate steps to protect the water bodies

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Sunday directed all the states and union territories to designate a nodal agency for the protection of water bodies.

The Green Tribunal Principal bench headed by its Chairperson Justice A K Goel noted that the concerned authorities had failed to take adequate steps to protect the water bodies so far.

"We find that steps taken so far can hardly be held to be adequate...It helps not only aesthetics but also water availability, aquatic life, microclimate, recharge of groundwater and maintaining e-flow of the rivers," the bench observed.

Under the oversight of chief secretaries of states/UTs, the designated nodal agency has been asked to hold its meeting by January 31, 2021 to take stock of the situation and plan further steps, including directions to district authorities for further course of action up to the Panchayat level.

The bench also said that the nodal agency would evolve further monitoring mechanism as well as Grievance Redressal Mechanism (GRM) and submit periodical reports to the Central Pollution Control Board or Secretary of Ministry of Jal Shakti, Government of India.

Hearing a plea filed by a petitioner, Haryana resident Lt Col (retd) Sarvadaman Singh Oberoi, seeking to restore the Ghata Lake in Gurgaon and 214 other water bodies in Faridabad district, the Tribunal expanded the scope of petition to the entire country.

"Any individual grievances may be first raised before the appropriate GRM or by moving the concerned District Magistrate which may be looked into on merits," the Tribunal said.

The tribunal also asked the Central Monitoring Committee, formed for monitoring remediation of 351 polluted river stretches, to monitor the steps for restoration of water bodies by all the states periodically, at least thrice in a year.

First such monitoring may take place by March 31, 2021, the tribunal said.