Article courtesy of Ranjana Diggikar | January 24, 2015 | The Times of India | Shared as educational material
AURANGABAD: The Pune bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday issued bailable warrant against collectors of Nanded, Chandrapur, Parbhani and Hingoli for failing to file affidavit in reply to a petition of green activists over contaminated water supply in these districts.
The tribunal has also asked officers of the rank of special inspector general of police of the respective regions to serve these orders to the district collectors.
Taking cognizance of potable water contamination in 12 districts of the state, the NGT bench comprising justices V R Kingaonkar and Dr Ajay Desphande passed the order on a petition filed by Asim Sarode and a group of lawyers from the Sahyog Trust.
The group of socio-legal lawyers associated with the trust approached the tribunal with survey reports in December 2013. All these advocates from different districts of Maharashtra have filed a petition before the NGT for the rights of the people who are residents of Yavatmal, Nanded, Chandrapur, Beed, Latur, Washim, Parbhani, Hingoli, Jalna, Jalgaon, Nagpur and Bhandara districts. Many residents of these districts got infected because of fluorosis content in drinking water.
The tribunal further ordered to add secretary of the revenue department as party-respondent and called for his comprehensive affidavit-in-reply regarding percentage of fluoride in the water, the quantity of water extracted and sold illegally per month in every district.
The affidavits-in-reply filed by some of the collectors mention that the talukas which are gravely affected by such high fluoride content in drinking water in Yavatmal district are Arni, Babhulgaon, Darwha, Digras, Ghatanji, Kalamb, Mahagaon, Maregaon, Ner, Pandharkar, Pusad, Ralegaon, Umerkhed, Wani, and Zar-jamni. Besides, there are also some locations where drinking water contains fluoride content above permissible limits (over 10 parts per million). These locations include Koli Road, Ghatanji, Munzala gram panchayat, Kelapur, Gaul Budruk gram panchayat and Pusad in Yavatmal district.
The reply presented before the tribunal revealed only 65 of the 191 water sheds fall under the safe category. There are 11 district hospitals at different villages where only one regular dentist has been at Kalamb. No dentist has been appointed either on contractual or regular basis at two rural hospital in Ghatanji and Babulgaon.
According to the affidavits-in-reply, it has come to the fore that almost 377 people have been affected by dental fluorosis, while 83 people were hit by skeletal fluorosis.
“By August-end last year, 3,710 patients of dental fluorosis and more than 389 people suffering from skeletal fluorosis were found in Nanded district alone. A government survey has put Beed district also on fluorosis alert as the health department tested 3,862 water samples from the district and found 2,402 unsuitable for drinking due to high content of fluoride nitrate and iron,” the petition said.
Though some of the district collectors filed affidavit-in-reply as mentioned above, the ones from Nanded, Chandrapur, Parbhani and Hingoli failed to file theirs before the NGT by January 21, 2015 despite being served notices.
“The government officers are negligent on the issue of health of poor public living in the villages. The tribunal took the correct step by issuing warrants against these district collectors,” Sarode said.