NGT directs states, UTs to designate nodal agency for protection of water bodies

NEW DELHI, Nov 22: Noting that adequate steps for protection of water bodies have not been taken, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed all states and union territories (UT) to designate a nodal agency for the exercise.

The NGT directed that, under the oversight of chief secretaries of states/UTs, the designated nodal agency may hold its meeting not later than 31 January, 2021, to take stock of the situation and plan further steps, including directions to district authorities for further course of action.

The tribunal asked the central monitoring committee, formed for monitoring remediation of 351 polluted river stretches, to monitor the steps for restoration of water bodies by all the states periodically, at least thrice in a year.

The first such monitoring may take place by 31 March, 2021, the tribunal said.

“We find that steps taken so far can hardly be held to be adequate… It helps not only aesthetics but also water availability, aquatic life, microclimate, recharge of ground water and maintaining e-flow of the rivers.

“Under the public trust doctrine, the state has to act as trustee of the water bodies to protect them for the public use and enjoyment for current and future generations,” a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice AK Goel said.

The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by petitioner Haryana resident, retired lieutenant colonel Sarvadaman Singh Oberoi, seeking to restore Ghata Lake in Gurgaon besides restoration of 214 other water bodies and natural channels in the district and similar water bodies in Faridabad.

The tribunal had expanded the scope of the petition to the entire country, in the interest of protection of the environment. (PTI)