NGT Chairperson Stresses Citizens Constitutional Duty to Protect Rivers and Water Bodies at ‘Nadi Ustav’ Inauguration


LI Network

Published on: 23 September 2023 at 11:27 IST

Justice Prakash Shrivastava, the chairperson of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), emphasized the constitutional obligation of citizens to safeguard forests, lakes, and rivers during an event.

Justice conveyed that the success of various initiatives aimed at curbing river pollution would depend on each individual in the country recognizing their duty to maintain the cleanliness of water bodies.

Justice Shrivastava delivered these remarks as the chief guest at the inauguration of the fourth ‘Nadi Ustav,’ organized by the Union Ministry of Culture at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA).

He emphasized, “It is the duty of every citizen under Article 51A (fundamental duties) to protect forests, lakes, and rivers.”

Justice Shrivastava referred to several Supreme Court judgments, including a 1987 ruling in which the apex court lamented the pollution of the Ganga, a river revered for its purifying qualities, due to various forms of human activity such as garbage disposal, the disposal of dead animals, and the discharge of effluents.

Quoting this verdict, he reiterated the court’s observation that “No law or authority can succeed in removing the pollution unless the people cooperate. To my mind, it is the sacred duty of all those who reside or carry on business around the river Ganga to ensure the purity of the Ganga.”

Justice Shrivastava underscored the significance of rivers as sources of life and civilization, serving as “vibrant threads” that unite diverse castes, religions, and cultures.

He acknowledged the government’s efforts to legislate for river cleanliness, establish Pollution Control Boards, and implement programs to combat pollution in major rivers like the Ganga and Yamuna. These initiatives included the Ganga Action Plan, National Mission for Clean Ganga, and River Ganga (Rejuvenation, Protection, and Management) Authorities Order, 2016.

Justice Shrivastava also mentioned the NGT’s involvement in multiple cases related to river pollution and its issuance of effective orders.

However, he stressed that these efforts alone were insufficient, emphasizing that success could only be achieved when every individual comprehended the importance of maintaining river cleanliness.

He articulated, “If every municipality, municipal corporation, and panchayat takes this pledge that impure water of the drains is completely treated before it enters the rivers, if industries established on the river banks decide that they will not allow effluents to enter the river, if people engaged in illegal mining realize that their activities are only harming the rivers, and if the common people realize the divine nature of the river there is no reason why the rivers will not start getting clean.”

The event was attended by Ram Bahadur Rai, president of IGNCA, Sachchidanand Joshi, member secretary of IGNCA, environmentalist Anil Kumar Joshi, and other dignitaries. The valedictory function is scheduled for September 24.

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