In what is a shot in the arm for NGO Vanashakti battling to save the Ulhas river, the Supreme Court has passed an order staying the final judgement by Bombay High Court (HC), which had provided relief to industries responsible for polluting the river.
In fact, the western Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in 2015 gave a detailed order asking four local municipal bodies, along with Dombivli Industries Association, an organisation that represented industries in depositing Rs 96 crore for implementation of a scientific programme for cleaning the Ulhas and Waldhuni in an escrow account headed by the Konkan Commissioner. However, these agencies approached the Bombay High Court, and the NGT order was stayed.
The SC order dictated by the SC bench of Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Amitava Roy uploaded on Monday, stays all the previous orders of the Bombay HC. The SC stated that the aggrieved party has two options — either to file a review petition with NGT or approach the SC — and it has laid down a time period of three weeks to do the same.
Stalin Dayanand, Director, Projects Vanashakti said that it was a landmark order as this judgement by the SC clears the ambiguity and provides for speedy disposal of cases relating to the environment. “It was years of sustained fighting against those responsible for deterioration of the river. We are relived that our efforts did not go down the drain. The judicial delays were only providing polluters a long rope and it was destroying the river with each passing day,” he said, adding that the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) had failed miserably in their duty to protect this once pristine river.
Meanwhile, officials from Ulhasnagar Municipal Corporation as well as sources close to the Industries association claimed they will not approach NGT, but the SC soon.