On 17th June, the National Green Tribunal established an independent monitoring committee to restore and rejuvenate the Varuna and Assi rivers, tributaries of the Ganges, in Varanasi.
The committee includes the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCC), the State Pollution Control Board, the National Clean Ganges Mission (NMCG) and the District Magistrate of Varanasi, with the State Pollution Control Committee acting as the nodal coordination agency and compliance.
The bencu chaired by Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, said the Committee would be free to seek the assistance of any other expert or institution, including a rejuvination agency. In addition, the Committee could meet within two weeks and consider an action plan on the issue in the light of the previously existing action plans, as required.
The Tribunal also instructed the National Mission for a Clean Ganges to submit, by 4 August, a report on action taken on the matter, based on the Committee’s report and including the following details:
• The state of water quality in Assi and Varuna.
• Measures taken for wastewater disposal and treatment, water quality in the upper and lower reaches of the confluence of the Assi and Varuna with the Ganges River.
• Demarcation of the Assi, Varuna and Ganges floodplains in the specified area in accordance with the 2016 Ganga River Authority (Rejuvenation, Protection and Management) Order.
The directives were issued by the Tribunal on an application filed in relation to the pollution of the Varuna and Assi rivers in Varanasi by untreated sewage discharges and unauthorized construction.
Given the seriousness of the allegations, but without expressing any opinion at this stage, the Tribunal considered it appropriate to take measures to restore and rejuvenate the Assi and Varuna rivers by demanding that the authorities in UP state fulfill their responsibilities in accordance with previous decisions and orders of the Supreme Court and Tribunal concerning the control of pollution of the Ganges.
Pursuant to this application, the cleaning of the Ganges River cannot be imagined without prior prevention of pollution of its tributaries. The statement also indicated that the pollution of these rivers was the subject of various media reports, and the water quality of the Ganges River in Varanasi was in poor condition.