The National Green Tribunal (NGT) directed all coastal States and Union Territories on Tuesday to submit an action plan to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to prevent sewage and industrial effluents from being discharged into the sea.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said the CPCB report about the status of compliance with regard to pollution laws in all coastal areas in the country, particularly with regard to the discharge of untreated and industrial and municipal effluents and solid waste, is incomplete.
“Accordingly, we direct the CPCB to submit a comprehensive status report which regards to coastal pollution by way of classification of coastal areas in priority-I to V within three months positively,” the bench said.
The NGT further directed that a copy of this order be sent to all chief secretaries and State Pollution Control Boards of all coastal states — Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Odisha, Lakshadweep, Daman and Diu, Gujarat, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Andaman and Nicobar, Puducherry and CPCB by email.
The tribunal said it is necessary to ensure that water at the beaches remains fit for bathing and survival of aquatic life, fishing and contact sports in accordance with Sea Water Criteria in terms of directions of the CPCB.
It noted that India has a coastline of about 7,555 km, of which about 5,400 km belong to peninsular India and the remaining to the Andaman and Nicobar, and the Lakshadweep Islands.
“With less than 0.25% of the world coastline, India houses 63 million people, approximately 11% of the global population living in low lying coastal areas. The coast also includes 77 cities, including some of the largest and most dense urban agglomerations — Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Kochi and Visakhapatnam,” the bench, also comprising Justice SP Wangdi and Justice K Ramakrishnan, noted.
The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by Lt Gen Sarvadaman Singh Oberoi (retd) seeking direction to formulate an action plan to restore seawater quality along the Indian coastal areas.
It has referred to a CPCB report on ‘Classification of Indian Coasts and Conflicts’ (1982-86) referring to marine pollution by sewage and other discharge in violation of environment laws.