New Delhi: Expressing serious concern about the deaths and diseases of children in Gorakhpur district of which contamination of water is a possible cause, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary to undertake a visit to the site to take a stock of the ground situation.
The principal bench of NGT chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel was hearing a grievance alleging contamination of water bodies and groundwater in Ramgarh Lake, Ami, Rapti and Rohani rivers in and around the district resulting in viral infections like brain fever and Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES).
The tribunal, in the order dated March 30, also directed a high-level team headed by an Expert in Neurovirology may also undertake a visit to the area within one month, accompanied by nominees of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Animal Husbandry and Medical Health and Family Welfare Departments, Uttar Pradesh.
The petitioner contended that Gorakhpur has a history of the death of hundreds of children at BRD Medical College, though the majority of patients come from different parts of eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
Such diseases at times prove fatal and if the patients survive, they suffer serious mental disabilities. Sources of the virus are also said to be piggeries, water birds, and livestock which is further accelerated by contaminated water, it pointed out.
In the order, it was noted serious failure on the part of the authorities in controlling water pollution which is continuing.
Contributors to pollution are not merely private industries but also state authorities who have to manage the sewage, the order said.
“The state exists for the welfare of citizens and minimum guaranteed constitutional rights must be enforced. It is no satisfaction that some steps have been taken till pollution is completely stopped and the health of the citizens and the source of water are secured under the public trust doctrine. Since we are assured by the Chief Secretary and the Additional Chief Secretaries that the situation will receive serious attention henceforth, we hope and expect meaningful, prompt and continuous action,” the order read.
A serious concern is the deaths of children and diseases in the area of which contamination of water is a possible cause. Thus, the projects proposed in the form of Combined Effluent Treatment Plants (CETP) and sewage treatment plant (STP) need to be implemented on war footing so as to show the result on the ground, and to comply with the directions of the Supreme Court, it said.
The Central Pollution Control Board also needs to monitor STPs in the context of Ramgarh lake, river Ami, Rapti, Ghagra, Rohini and to assess compliance with respect to fecal coliform and sewage utilisation plan, the green court directed.