Delhi CM announces free sewage cleaning schemes for unauthorised colonies
In an effort to end sewer deaths, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has announced a scheme for free cleaning of the septic tanks in unauthorised colonies in the capital. Under the new scheme, any person can make a phone request to get their septic tank cleaned, following which the Delhi Jal Board's truck will reach the site and collect the sludge from these septic tanks and take it to sewage treatment plants. Also, the government is planning to involve an agency to clean septic tanks in unauthorised colonies for which tenders will be floated soon. The unauthorised colonies, which have septic tanks, get their tanks cleaned by hiring private companies or contractors that engage people for cleaning the tanks manually, which sometimes leads to sewer deaths. (India TV)
Related: Check out our World Toilet Day special issue - a photo essay by Sharada Prasad and Isha Ray on the labour of India's sewer workers - those who do the unclean work that India relies on.
Government to pass National Ganga Bill
During the winter session of Parliament, the government plans to introduce and pass the National River Ganga (Rejuvenation, Protection and Management) Bill 2019 which aims to prevent pollution of the Ganga river and to ensure its continuous flow. The draft bill proposes graded penalties, depending on the severity of the offence which includes activities like illegal construction of ports or jetties; storage or diversion of water by any means causing obstruction to the flow of water; mining, stone quarrying or extracting groundwater; and spoiling or defacing the ghats of the Ganga and its tributaries. A maximum fine of Rs. 50 crore and imprisonment of upto five years have been proposed for violation of the bill. (The Indian Express)
CPCB releases guidelines for safe use of effluents in irrigation
Following orders from the National Green Tribunal (NGT), the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has issued guidelines for the safe usage of treated sewage and effluents from industries in agriculture. In May 2019, the tribunal forbade industries from disposing treated effluents on agricultural land without assessing the adequate availability of land and impacts of such disposal on crops and the groundwater of the area; it further ordered the CPCB to look into this aspect. The CPCB has also stressed that industries should engage scientists to seek advice on the utilisation or the rate of application of effluent for irrigation. (Mongabay India)
Uttarakhand to criminalize the use of chemical fertilisers
With an aim to make the state 100 percent organic, the Uttarakhand government plans to pass a law to criminalize the usage of chemicals in the form of fertilisers or pesticides in selected areas. Initially, the law will be implemented in eight blocks across the hill state. The law will impose Rs 1 lakh fine and a prison sentence of one year for those who violate the law by using chemical fertilizers, insecticides or pesticides in the notified blocks. The act titled as Organic Agriculture Act 2019 will be tabled in the upcoming winter session of the Uttarakhand legislative assembly and will be converted into a law soon. (The New Indian Express)
NGT against Karnataka government's diktat to BBMP to send mixed waste to processing plants
Last week, the Government of Karnataka directed the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to send mixed waste to processing plants instead of sending it to landfills. The directive was opposed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), which ordered the civic agency to follow the Solid Waste Management (SWM) Rules 2016 that mandate sending only wet waste for processing. The tribunal also asked the special commissioners to enforce segregation of waste at source and help residents and business establishments who come under bulk generators' category to process waste at source. (The Times of India)
This is a roundup of important policy matters from November 13 - 18, 2019. Also, read news this week.