The petitioners alleged that pollution in the river was caused mainly during the Nashik Kumbh Mela held in 2015.
Mumbai: The Bombay high court on Tuesday directed the government of Maharashtra to take urgent steps to check pollution in Godavari river allegedly caused by the Kumbh Mela held in Nashik in 2015 and other religious events.
The division bench of Justice A.S. Oka and Ju-stice A.K. Menon issued this direction while hea-ring public interest litigation filed by social ac-tivists Rajesh Pandit an-d Nishikant Paghare all-eging pollution in God-avari and seeking for a direction to clean the ri-ver. The petitioners alle-ged that pollution in the Godavari river was cau-sed mainly during the ‘Shahi Snan’ (Royal bat-h) in the Nashik Kumbh Mela held in 2015.
The judges further directed the government to let a monitoring committee, formed by the HC, to continue as a permanent body and to provide adequate funds for its functioning. Apart from monitoring the committee is also supposed to implement the recommendations of the National Environm-ental Engineering Inst-itution (NEERI) in controlling river pollution.
Some of the drastic recommendations mad-e by NEERI include: no construction along the Red Line level (which marks highest flood level once in 100 years). A no-construction zone is already accepted along Blue Line (which marks highest flood level once in 25 years).
‘Kumbh Mela’ is the biggest Hindu religious congregation which is held once in 12 years. According to beliefs, taking a dip in the sacred river is considered auspicious during the Kumbh period.
‘Shahi Snan’ is one of the main highlights of the Mela where heads of various ‘Akharas’ (Hindu ascetic denominations) bathe in the river.
The bench on Tuesday also directed that there be a grievance redressal mechanism to enable citizens to make complaints related to pollution of water bodies.
In 2014, the HC had directed that a panel comprising the Nashik Divisional Commissi-oner, the Nashik Muni-cipal Corporation, and representatives of the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board be constituted to study the effects of water pollution and suggest ways of controlling river pollution.