The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has said the ‘state has to act as trustee and not whimsically’ over the apprehension of Uttar Pradesh authorities that taking action against encroachers of Jhansi’s historic lake Laxmi Tal may adversely affect the law and order situation.
The bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel also recorded the assurance of the Principal Secretary of UP Urban Development that further remedial action will be taken for the protection of the waterbody by controlling the pollution and removing the encroachments, following due process of law.
The green court was dealing with a plea against the inaction of the statutory authorities in protecting the water body from unauthorised encroachments and pollution and preventing entry of untreated sewage and sullage.
During the hearing, Principal Secretary, UD, Municipal Commissioner, Jhansi, Vice Chairman, Jhansi Development Authority, and District Magistrate Jhansi were present in person.
As per the Commissioner’s report, steps were taken to prevent pollution and to protect the water body and the water quality was not fit for bathing and thus, was of poor quality. It had also been observed that several beautification and catchment improvement works were underway and those needed to be completed without further delay.
“We are of the view that the Rule of Law has to be upheld and it is absurd to say that if lawful action is taken law and order situation will deteriorate which means illegality should be tolerated and lawlessness allowed. It is the responsibility of the state to protect water bodies by way of completely stopping the entry of sewage into the Tal which are significant for the environment,” the bench said in the recently passed order.
“The state is to act as trustee and not whimsically as thought by the Commissioner in taking an untenable plea to defeat the law. There is no question of deterioration of law and order in doing so,” the tribunal said while disposing of the plea.
The petitioner alleged that in violation of Jhansi Master Plan 2021, there are illegal encroachments at Laxmi Tal where a big park is proposed to be developed for tourism.
Large-scale illegal plotting and heavy pollution were also taking place in the lake, as per the plea.