NEW DELHI: While hearing an application seeking direction to formulate an action plan to restore sea water quality along the Indian coastal areas, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) expressed concern about the deteriorating coastal water quality and rising coastal pollution. A bench headed by Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, NGT chairperson also noted that municipal and industrial effluents are polluting the seas and endangering the environment. It said that it is necessary that coastal water remains safe and fit for bathing, survival of aquatic life, fishing and water sports in accordance with directions of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) dated 15 December, 2016 under Section 18(1)(b) of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.
It is observed that the report of the CPCB is incomplete without the status of compliance in accordance with the pollution laws in all coastal areas in the country. It must be kept in mind that municipal bodies and industrial units abide by these standards, particularly with regard to the discharge of untreated water, solid waste and sewage into the seas.
Consequently, the NGT asked the CPCB to submit a comprehensive status report and classify coastal areas with regard to coastal pollution level I to V as has been done for 351 polluted stretches. The tribunal also directed all pollution boards of coastal states and union territories to provide relevant information to CPCB within one month, failing which they will be fined Rs 10 lakh per month till compliance. Apart from this, the tribunal went ahead to say that local bodies must be held liable to be prosecuted for violations of the Water Act.
According to the application filed before the tribunal, around 80 per cent of marine pollution is caused due to land-based sources-industrial, agricultural and urban. Certain coastal areas are also critically polluted due to release of untreated sewerage and solid waste into the seas. The application also said that the municipal sewage is the main source of pollution and discharge of untreated sewage and effluents in the sea is continuing on large scale.