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Ganga in West Bengal deemed unfit for bathing due to untreated sewage


Kolkata: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has issued a strong caution to West Bengal authorities after declaring the entire Ganga River stretch in the state unfit for bathing due to elevated levels of faecal coliform bacteria.

The NGT discovered that an alarming 258.67 million litres per day of untreated sewage is directly entering the river, posing a severe health hazard.

This revelation emerged during a hearing focused on ongoing efforts to combat pollution in the Ganga River across different states. The NGT, a judicial body dedicated to environmental protection, was reviewing a report submitted by West Bengal in response to previous directives addressing this crucial concern.

Justice Prakash Shrivastava, Chairperson of the NGT bench, expressed profound concern upon examining reports from various West Bengal districts, including North 24 Parganas, Murshidabad, Nadia, Malda, Hooghly, Purba Burdwan, Howrah, Purba Medinipur, and South 24 Parganas. The reports revealed insufficient sewage treatment facilities across the state, with some districts, like Purba Medinipur, astonishingly lacking a single Sewage Treatment Plant (STP).

The NGT cautioned West Bengal authorities about potential fines if substantial progress is not demonstrated in addressing the issue of untreated sewage entering the Ganga.

The NGT bench stated, "On perusal of these reports, we, in general, find that no adequate facilities for treatment of sewage generated per day have been set up and that even the timeline for achieving the target of 100% treatment of sewage has not been disclosed."

The bench, comprising Justice Sudhir Agarwal and expert members A Senthil Vel and Afroz Ahmad, directed District Magistrates of nine districts to file affidavits specifying deadlines for achieving 100% sewage treatment. They are also required to disclose the utilisation of funds received from the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) and steps taken for floodplain demarcation.

The tribunal emphasised the need for a performance audit by the NMCG to assess waste generation, treatment, and the extent of pollution causing harm to the river in each district.

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