New Delhi, Jul 19: The National Green Tribunal on Tuesday rapped the Uttar Pradesh government for its failure to provide clean drinking water in six western districts of the state and constituted a committee to look into the issue.
The green panel slammed the state government, Uttar Pradesh Jal Nigam and UP Pollution Control Board for risking the lives of "children" in villages of Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Meerut, Baghpat, Ghaziabad and Saharanpur districts.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar directed the Chief Secretary of Uttar Pradesh to hold a meeting with the committee on the issue of contamination of groundwater in the six districts.
"Your (UP) officers were supposed to comply with our orders. But, they have not. Due to the failure of the state to provide potable water, the children are compelled to drink contaminated ground water," the bench said.
The green panel constituted a committee comprising Chief Secretary, Chairman and Member Secretary of Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board, Managing Director of UP Jal Nigam and ordered the panel to inspect and provide potable water within three days from today.
It also warned that in case of delay in compliance of its order it would initiate action against the members of the committee formed by it. The matter is now listed for next hearing on August 29. The tribunal was hearing a petition filed by scientist C V Singh who had claimed that farmers and poor villagers were facing health hazards as they were forced to drink highly contaminated ground water in these six districts.
Petitioner's counsel Gaurav Bansal, who was present before the bench with few disabled children, said the Uttar Pradesh government has failed to provide clean drinking water to children in different villages of Baghpat district and were developing serious physical disabilities because of drinking of ground water.
He also submitted various photographs purportedly showing infants and young children having developed serious disabilities, mentally and physically, due to contaminated water.
UP Jal Nigam had earlier told the bench that samples of groundwater from handpumps show excessive levels of iron, magnesium, lead, calcium, manganese, among others. The Jal Nigam had also said it has placed signboards on handpumps indicating that water is unfit for drinking.