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NGT slams Uttarakhand govt over use of polythene bags in Haridwar

New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal on Wednesday came down heavily on the Uttarakhand government over non-compliance of its orders in the pilgrimage town of Haridwar including on the ban on use of polythene bags.

“You people have made a complete joke of the orders of the Tribunal. What are you doing in Haridwar? There is nothing fine there. There are plastic manufacturing units operating in the city. You are running complete markets on ghats. What is this going on?,” a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said.

Taking note of status report filed by local commissioner, the bench directed Uttarakhand Pollution Control Board to submit an affidavit stating whether consent to operate has been granted to the plastic manufacturing units in the state which is mentioned in the report. With regard to working of Sewage Treatment Plant (STP), the green panel directed the Additional District Magistrate Haridwar to file an affidavit in consultation with the Nagar Nigam giving details about the working of Sewage Treatment Plant (STP).

Advocate Sharik Zaidi, the commissioner appointed by the Tribunal, had pointed in the report that STP plant was running without the consent of Pollution Control Board and effluents were directly discharged into Ganga by creating a by-pass around the plant.

“How dare you make a by-pass around the STP. Your officers made a false statement before the Tribunal. This is the worst thing you can do to the river,” the bench said.

During the hearing, the Uttarakhand government told the bench that 13 million ‘kanwarias’ (devotees of Lord Shiva) visited Haridwar during the kanwar mela and practically it was impossible for the state to manage the affairs in the city.

The counsel for Uttarakhand government told the Tribunal that some ‘kanwarias’ even brought goods to sell and keeping a track on such a large number of people was not possible. He alleged that the local commissioner’s report was nothing more than “personal agenda” and he was trying to derive “personal gains” from his visit. The local commissioner’s report had said that use of polythene bags was going on unabated in Haridwar with traders and residents rampantly using them despite the ban order.

“No cleanliness activity was carried out by the administration on Har Ki Pauri Ghat as Ganga Sabha is taking care of cleanliness but they are also not maintaining cleanliness even though this Tribunal directed Nagar Nigam and police authority to maintain the Ghats,” the commissioner had said in his inspection report.

The green panel had in July imposed a complete ban on use of plastic bags in the pilgrim cities of Haridwar and Rishikesh and announced a fine of Rs 5,000 as per polluter pays principle.

“Plastic will not be used for any purpose whatsoever i.e for serving food, commodities, packing items etc,” the Tribunal had said.