Taking up cudgels on behalf of the citizens and upholding their right to getting the supply of uncontaminated water, the Supreme Court has begun with ensuring a clean-up of the Yamuna. Taking suo motu notice of the sorry state of affairs, the SC has made all states through which the Yamuna passes and the agencies responsible for its clear flow answerable for the discharge of untreated effluents into the river. Rightly so. For, dirty water gushing from the taps in so many homes and establishments along the river’s embankments can be traced to not one cause but to the cumulative neglect and oversight by all concerned. That the health and even life of both humans and aquatic species is compromised resultantly makes the lapses criminal.
The rap by the apex court should goad them all to get their act together: Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh as also the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, and the Central Pollution Control Board. While responding to the SC notices, each would do well to accept its share of the responsibility in the matter and proceed to fulfil it, rather than indulge in the usual blame game. A slip by any stakeholder can undo the good work of maintaining cleanliness by the others. A glaring example is the recurring glitches found in Haryana’s sewage treatment plants that partly lead to the cancerous concoction in the Yamuna waters flowing into Delhi.
Indeed, the price to be paid in terms of ill-health and treatment for diseases and the economic cost of a degraded environment, flora and fauna far outweighs the cost incurred in curbing river pollution. The authorities must diligently set things right at the municipal level in order to nip the irritants in the way of proper industrial and human waste management in the bud. Swift penal action against the offenders is needed before things spin out of control. Respect for the natural lifelines holds the key for the sustenance of life and livelihoods.