The National Green Tribunal (NGT) expressed concern about coastal pollution and emphasized on the necessity of ensuring that coastal water at beach remains fit for bathing and survival of aquatic life and noted that sewage and industrial effluents are polluting seas and endangering the environment.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said that it is necessary to ensure that coastal water at beach remains fit for bathing and survival of aquatic life, fishing and contact sports in accordance with Sea Water Criteria in terms of directions of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) dated December 15, 2016 under Section 18(1)(b) of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.
The NGT was hearing an application seeking direction to formulate an action plan to restore sea water quality along the Indian coastal areas.
It observed that the report of CPCB is incomplete about the status of compliance with regard to norms of pollution laws in all the coastal areas in the country, particularly with regard to the discharge of untreated and industrial and municipal effluents and solid waste.
Accordingly, the Green Tribunal directed CPCB to submit a comprehensive status report which regard to coastal pollution by way of classification of coastal areas in priority I to V as has been done for 351 polluted stretches within three months positively.
The tribunal also directed that all the pollution control board of coastal states and union territories to give the relevant information to CPCB within one-month failing which defaulting states and Union Territories will be liable to pay Rs 10 lakhs per month till compliance.
The court also directed to send order copy to all the Chief Secretaries, State Pollution Control Boards and Pollution Control Committees 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 and Puducherry.
The tribunal also suggested that local bodies should be held to be liable to be prosecuted for violation of provisions of the Water Act.
The tribunal also observed that Andaman and Nicobar Islands have world-famous and unique coral bio-diversity which is getting increasingly threatened due to tourism more than the carrying capacity.
It also noted that there are reports that indiscriminate releases of untreated or partially treated wastes without considering the assimilative capacity of the waste receiving water body have resulted in pockets of polluted environs with depleted coastal resources, public health risks and loss of biodiversity.
"Coastal and marine water pollution has increased throughout the world, mainly due to direct discharges from rivers, increased surface run-off and drainage from expanding port areas, oil spills and other contaminants from shipping, and domestic and industrial effluents," the NGT said.
"Rapid urban industrialisation, maritime transport, marine fishing, tourism, coastal and sea bed mining, offshore oil and natural gas production and aquaculture cause severe environmental degradation," it added.
According to an application filed before the tribunal, certain coastal areas are critically polluted on account of dumping of sewerage and waste and over 80 per cent of marine pollution is from land based sources- industrial, agricultural and urban.
The application also said that the municipal sewage is the main source of pollution and discharge of untreated sewage and effluents in the sea is continuing on large scale.
( With inputs from ANI )