MC MEHTA VERUS UNION OF INDIA

This case is basically about the water pollution in our holy river Ganga River ganga is the Holy rivers of Hindus which is the most scattered river from India to Bangladesh after all these years the man has become selfish and do whatever it takes for it’s benefit without thinking about the environment so happened in the case of MC Mehta Vs Union of India.

The petitioner was MC Mehta and respondent was union of India. In this case   Articles 48(a) and 51(g) and water pollution act as well as environment protection act 1986 was included. Basically the industries located near river ganga specially leather industry are disposing of there waste In river ganga by making the river dirty and toxic due to these toxic substances aquatic animals are not able to survive so as humans which are using water from river Ganga.

Facts of the case : M.C. Mehta, an environmental lawyer and social activist, filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court of India against about 89 respondents, wherein Respondent 1, Respondent 7, Respondent 8 and Respondent 9 were Union of India, the Chairman of the Central Board for Prevention and Control of Pollution, the Chairman of Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board and Indian Standards Institute respectively who were not held liable.

The court ruling commenced in 1985 in the holy city of Haridwar located along the banks of the stream Ganga when a matchstick flung by a smoker resulted in the river bursting into flames for over 30 hours. The fire was discovered to be a consequence of the presence of harmful inflammable compound layer over the waters. The Court had believed the issue to be one of prime significance, however, the immense size of the case, i.e., the stretch of the river, was found to be troublesome.

Issues raised:

Has leather tranniers has set up primary treatment plant.

Whether the State Government had paid attention to the worsening condition of the sacred river and had initiated probation into the matter

Whether any steps, if at all, had been taken by the state

Whether the smaller industries should be funded for setting up effluent treatment plant

What all steps should the Central Government must take to regulate pollutant discharge into the river.

Arguments of the Petitioner

The Petitioner had grieved that neither the authorities nor the people, whose lives were intricately connected with the river and directed affected by it, seemed to be concerned about the increasing levels of pollution of the Ganga and necessary steps were required to prevent the same.

The Petitioner, in the capacity of an active social worker, had therefore sought a writ/direction/order in the nature of mandamus, directing inter alia inhibiting the Respondents from releasing toxic effluents into the Ganga until they integrate appropriate treatment plants to treat the effluents to stop water pollution.

Arguments by the Respondents

None of the tanneries disputed the fact that the effluent discharge from the tanneries grossly pollutes the Ganga.

It was stated that they discharge the trade effluents into the sewage nullah, which leads to the Municipal Sewage Plants before discharge into the river.”

Some tanneries stated that they have already had primary treatment plants, while some are presently engaged in the same.”

Some of the tanneries who were members of the Hindustan Chambers of Commerce and some of the other tanneries guaranteed that with the approval of Respondent 8 (State Board), they would construct primary treatment plants which would be operational within a period of six months from the date of hearing and in failing to do so, will shut down their tanneries.”

However, they argued that it would not be possible for them to establish secondary treatment plants to treat the wastewater further as it would involve huge expenditure which is beyond their means.”

JUDGEMENT

In this petition the petitioner requested the court to request the Supreme Court (“the Court”) to restrain the respondents from releasing effluents into the Ganga river till the time they incorporate certain treatment plants for treatment of toxic effluents to arrest water pollution. At the preliminary hearing the Court directed the issue of notice under Order I Rule 8 of the CPC, The Court highlighted the importance certain provisions in our constitutional framework which enshrine the importance and the need for protecting our environment. Article 48-A provides that the State shall endeavor to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wild life of the country. Article 51-A of the Constitution of India, imposes a fundamental duty on every citizen to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life.

The Court stated the importance of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 (‘the Water Act’). This act was passed to prevent and control water pollution and maintaining water quality. This act established central and stated boards and conferred them with power and functions relating to the control and prevention of water pollution. Section 24 of the Act prohibits the use of the use of any ‘stream’ for disposal of polluting matter. A ‘stream’ under section 2(j) of the Act includes river, The Act permits the establishment of Central Boards and State Boards. Section 16 and Section 17 of the Act describe the power of these boards. One of the functions of the State Board is to inspect sewage or trade effluents, plants for treatment of sewage and trade effluents.

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