Yamuna Current Affairs
A Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar has banned open defecation and waste dumping on the floodplains of the Yamuna. It has also slapped an environment compensation of Rs 5,000 for people who violated the order. Apart from this, the NGT has also constituted a committee under the head of Delhi Jal Board CEO to oversee the cleaning works of the river and ordered it to submit reports at regular intervals.
The tribunal has also ordered the Delhi government and the municipal corporations to immediately take action against those polluting industries which function in residential areas. These industries are held as the major source of pollution to the river.
NGT’s above orders were issued after hearing a plea on the monitoring of execution of the ‘Maili se Nirmal Yamuna Revitalisation Project 2017’.
The NGT on May 1 ordered the inspection of the sewage treatment plants (STP) to make sure that the effluents are treated before it got released into Yamuna. Almost 67% of the wastewater reaching Yamuna are to be treated under the STPs set up under Phase 1 of the ‘Maili se Nirmal Yamuna Revitalisation Project 2017’. Out of the total 14 STP projects that are to be built for treating wastewater, seven STP projects will be built by the Delhi Jal Board with its own funds.
The central government had sanctioned the Yamuna Action Plan (YAP)-I and YAP-II schemes for the states of Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. YAP-III projects which are to be completed by December 2018 has been introduced in Delhi with financial assistance from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The project involves works like sewerage/interception and diversion of drains, sewage treatment plants, low-cost sanitation and community toilet complexes, electric and improved wood crematoria among others.
The Uttarakhand High Court has recognized the Ganga and Yamuna Rivers as so-called living entities. It is for the first time any court in India has recognized a non-human as a living entity.
The two rivers are sacred for the Hindus, sustain millions of people in the country but have seen years of damage at the hands of humans.
The HC Division Bench comprising Justice Alok Singh and Justice Rajiv Sharma gave a landmark judgment while hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition filed by one Mohammad Salim in 2014.
Uttarakhand HC verdict
- Ganga and Yamuna, all their tributaries, streams are declared as legal persons [or] living persons in order to protect the recognition and the faith of society.
- They will have the status of a legal person with all corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person in order to preserve and conserve them.
- State government failed to fulfil its responsibility regarding the rivers. Central government must constitute Ganga Management Board to look into the issue of cleaning and maintaining these rivers.
- The Director, Namami Gange project and the Chief Secretary and the Advocate General of Uttarakhand have been charged to protect, conserve and preserve the rivers and their tributaries.
What does it means?
In India, animals, for instance, are not considered living entities by law. Only humans are. But recognizing these rivers as a living entity, grants them new legal identity and all rights laid out in the Constitution of India. Thus, they have the right to be legally protected and not be harmed and destroyed. They also can be parties to disputes as their rights can be used to protect the interests of the rivers. It also means that if someone pollutes these rivers, the law will see it equal to harming a human being.
- Earlier in March 2017, New Zealand Parliament passed a bill declaring 145km long Whanganui River as ‘legal person’, making it first river to get this status.
- Ecuador was first country to recognize Rights of Nature in its Constitution adopted in September 2008. The new Ecuadorian Constitution includes a Chapter: Rights for Nature.