Nagpur: Taking serious note about prevalence of fluorosis in most parts of Vidarbha, Marathwada and Western Maharashtra, the Pune-bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) directed the collectors from 12 districts to ensure that groundwater sources having higher fluoride contents should be discontinued, either by identifying alternate sources or by provision of regional water supply schemes within six months. They also need to submit compliance report to the NGT on a quarterly basis.
The collectors from Nagpur, Bhandara, Chandrapur, Beed, Yavatmal, Latur, Washim, Parbhani, Hingoli, Jalna, Jalgaon and Nanded, along with Groundwater Surveys and Development Agencies (GSDA) were also told to regularly monitor the water quality at all drinking water sources and publish district-wise information yearly.
A division bench comprising Justice VR Kingaonkar (judicial member) and Ajay Deshpande (expert) asked Maharashtra government to take policy decision to disallow crops like paddy and sugarcane in areas where groundwater level has gone deep and fluoride contents are beyond prescribed limits (above 0.5 mg).
The move is to avoid fluoride contamination in children in early age on precautionary basis and give directions to comply with guidelines by authorities within six months, but after sampling and opinion from Water Resources Department (WRD).
The government through its department of health as well as collectors were further told to provide free medical facilities to patients suffering from fluorosis.
The judges directed Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) and MPCB to jointly prepare list of industries and infrastructure projects which require their no-objection certificate (NOC)/permission within four weeks. Both agencies were further asked to publish their list on websites directing the industries to apply for necessary permissions in next four weeks, while CGWA would will consider and disposed of their applications on merits.
“In case, industries don’t apply for the permission/NOC, the MPCB and CGWA should issue necessary directions under provisions of environmental laws for their closure by following due process of law,” they warned.
MPCB was asked to identify industries discharging higher concentration of fluorides in the treated waste water and take suitable action within four weeks.
The directives came while hearing an plea by lawyers Asim Sarode, Smita Sarode Singalkar and others, who expressed concern over the threat faced by the citizens from 12 districts due to contaminated groundwater. They argued that increasing contamination in terms of fluorides contents due to human interference and unabated over-exploitation is posing a grave threat to the rural population.