New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal has directed the Delhi government to submit a status report on the condition of river Yamuna post immersion of Ganesh and Durga idols. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said a detailed affidavit enumerating steps being taken to clean the river should be filed.
The green panel also asked the city government and the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) to submit a status report on compliance of its directions on the execution of phase-I of Yamuna cleaning work. The first phase is on control and prevention of pollution at Najafgarh and Delhi Gate drains.
“The counsel appearing for the NCT (National Capital Territory) of Delhi submits that steps are being taken to clean the river and the flood plains of Yamuna after the festive season and immersion of idols. Let him also file a status report,” the bench said.
Thousands of idols of Ganesha (the elephant god) made of plaster of Paris and coated with toxic chemicals such as mercury, cadmium, lead and carbon were immersed in the Yamuna on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi which commenced late August.
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The NGT was hearing a plea filed by environment activist Akash Vashishta seeking directions for steps for cleaning the banks of the river which, he said, were completely choked with dumped waste. Referring to a media report, the petition said due to the immersion of idols and ‘puja’ material, the river has virtually turned into a drain.
The bio-oxygen demand of the river, a measure of organic pollution, reached “dangerously high levels” during Ganesh Chaturthi, it said. Stressing that the river was dying a slow death, the petition said the continuous and unabated immersion of idols into the Yamuna have caused complete choking.
The river has been turned into a virtual dumpyard of waste, the plea, filed through advocate Upama Bhattacharjee, said. It has sought directions for a complete bar on dumping of waste and an action plan to deal with idol immersion in the entire National Capital Region (NCR). The tribunal had in 2015 passed a slew of directions to prevent pollution of the Yamuna, including a ban on immersion of idols except those made from bio-degradable material.
“Idol immersion should be allowed only of the ones which are made from bio-degradable material and not plastic/plaster of Paris. Only those colours should be used on the idols which are environment-friendly,” the bench had then said.