The National Green Tribunal on Tuesday imposed a cost of Rs 10 lakh on the Government of Rajasthan for not controlling pollution in river Jojari despite its commitments/assurances made to the tribunal.The aforesaid order was passed in OA 329 of 2015 filed by Gram Panchayat Araba Village, Barmer which was listed on Tuesday before the Chairman’s bench comprising Justice U D Salvi and Dr. N. Nanda, expert member.The river Jojari was a seasonal river and carried only the excess rainwater, and ended downstream, now due to continuous release of almost 90 MLD of untreated sewage and untreated industrial effluent and release of treated water from Jodhpur has been flowing and carrying this mix of untreated and treated water downstream, where due to not having free passage, the water has been accumulating in the areas around the village of Araba. The state government had committed to the bench that new sewage treatment plants would be completed and started at Salawas by August/Sept 2017, and at Basni Benda by 2019. The bench was not satisfied by the explanation provided by the counsel appearing for the state. The bench also expressed its strong displeasure at non-completion of removal of sludge from the river despite many interim orders.It is notable that Jodhpur city’s sewage and untreated chemical effluent from the various industrial areas of the city is being released in the Jojari river and this has been flowing downstream and polluting thousands of acres of agricultural land as well as contaminating the source of water in Araba village in Barmer district.Appearing for the petitioners, advocate Jaideep Singh appraised the bench of the joint report filed by the State and Central Pollution Control Board which highlights the shortfall in sewage treatment capacity, leading to the discharge of untreated sewage and industrial effluent into the river. He also appraised the bench of the many other recommendations made by the joint report of the Central and State Pollution Control Board for controlling release of untreated sewage in the river but these have so far not complied with by the State. The discharge into the RIICO drain and its release into the river being one of the key considerations.He also appraised the bench of the difficulty being faced by the villagers due to release of almost 90 MLD untreated sewage in the river, which has been routinely flooding agricultural land downstream, and has over the course of years, led to serious contamination of both the soil as well as water sources. This accumulated untreated sewage is being used by farmers for agriculture, thus leading to a serious situation of heavy metals and chemicals entering the food chain through crops grown in this dirty water.The counsel for the petitioners prayed to the court to pass directions for stopping of release of untreated sewage in the river and for local relief and support measures for the affected villages dealing with the contamination.While rejecting the prayers of the state’s additional advocate general for his personal intervention and quick action, the court observed that they were fed up by the empty promises being made by the state government and for repeated non-compliance and non-completion of identified actions, and that the cost applied would be used for the noble purpose of fighting pollution and its ill-effects by the pollution control board.FactfileThe state government had committed to the bench that new sewage treatment plants would be completed and started at Salawas by August/Sept 2017, and at Basni Benda by 2019.

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Jojari river pollution: Tribunal imposes Rs 10 lakh cost on state government