On January 24, the Allahabad High Court sought a response from Uttar Pradesh authorities concerning the steps taken for river Ganga’s protection aiming to ensure the water quality. The bench even directed authorities to present the records by January 28. Following this, the Uttar Pradesh State Pollution Control Board informed the Allahabad Court that Ganga water is not fit for drinking purposes.
The Allahabad Court sought the response of authorities following a suo moto case for protection and restoration of Ganga by the High Court in 2006. The matter was again listed following the submission of an intervention application moved by advocate Tripti Verma. In the application, she claims that she happens to visit Prayagraj for taking part in the Magh Mela event and found that the water of rivers — Ganga and Yamuna — had deteriorated severely.
The application further noted that the river water became blackish, dirty, and was even stinking. It also said that the river water was neither fit good for bathing or drinking. The application further stressed that the Kalpwasees and Sadhus, who had assembled near the banks of two rivers, were using Reverse Osmosis (RO) water for meeting their drinking water necessities.
The petitioner cites improper functioning of Sewage Treatment Plants and discharge of untreated water directly to the water bodies as the reason for this deterioration. However, the court has adjourned the case for further hearing on February 4. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) in November 2019 imposed a penalty of Rs 10 crore on the UP government for failing to control sewage discharge including toxic chromium into the Ganga at Kanpur. Moreover, an independent team of international scientists had recently found that due to the combined flows of the Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers, the Ganga could be responsible for three billion microplastic particles entering the Bay of Bengal.
Meanwhile, a division bench of the Uttarakhand High Court has earlier declared that rivers Ganga and Yamuna and all their tributaries, streams as living entities. This is the first of its kind that such a judgment was made. Later, the Centre approached the Supreme Court over Uttarakhand HC’s order.