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National Green Tribunal orders Delhi residents to pay for Yamuna cleanup

09 May 2015

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) yesterday imposed an 'environmental compensation' on all households in Delhi, which generated sewage, irrespective of whether they were connected to a sewer or not.

"The monthly compensation payable by households will be directly proportionate to the property tax or water bill, whichever is higher," the order said.

Directions have been issued to the Delhi government, Delhi Jal Board (DJB), all municipal corporations, cantonment board, electricity companies like BSES and all other civic authorities to charge compensation from all households.

Households in unauthorised colonies would need to pay Rs100 or Rs500 per month based on their construction.

The amount would be added to the electricity or water bill or the property tax demand "in order of preference".

In environmental law, the 'polluter pays' principle was applied to ensure that those who were responsible for pollution bore the cost of restoring the environment.

The tribunal was hearing a plea by environmental activist Manoj Misra against pollution in Yamuna and encroachment of Yamuna flood plains.

The order did not specify the minimum amount that households needed to pay outside unauthorised colonies.

During the proceedings, lawyers requested the bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar, former chief justice of India, to specify the minimum amount but it remained unclear.

Rahul Choudhary, an advocate representing the applicant, said the minimum compensation would be determined by the agencies. He added, as far as imposition of this compensation was concerned, it would be immediate as the court's orders were already effective.

The bench directed Delhi Jal Board to submit the complete action plan and time-frame for completion of first phase of the project Maily Se Nirmal Yamuna Revitalization Plan, 2017 within one week from today.

''We permit DJB to finalise its action plan within the stipulated period and invite the tenders within 45 days as prayed, from today.

''We make it clear that we will not grant any further extension and the erring officer would be personally liable for default,'' the bench said while directing it complete this project as expeditiously as possible and ''in any case not later than 2016''.

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