High Court Slams Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation Over Sabarmati River Pollution

During a suo moto hearing on the Sabarmati River pollution, the Gujarat High Court again rebuked the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) officials, particularly Municipal Commissioner M. Thennarasan. Chief Justice Sunita Agarwal and Justice Pranav Trivedi expressed severe displeasure over the blueprint and lackadaisical attitude presented by the AMC, stating, “We need results, not assurances. We shouldn’t have to hold your class constantly.” The court demanded an inspection report from AMC and instructed the Municipal Commissioner to monitor the issue personally.

The High Court pointed out the AMC’s lack of seriousness in addressing Sabarmati’s pollution, saying, “We are doing the job the Municipal Commissioner should be doing.” The court also sought a detailed response from the AMC Commissioner regarding the sewage treatment plants (STPs) and other inspection reports, ordering the submission of an affidavit by August 8. Despite numerous hearings and stern criticisms from the High Court over the past five to six sessions, AMC’s approach seems unchanged. The court highlighted discrepancies in affidavits submitted by AMC and questioned the reliability of their data.

Ahmedabad Municipal Commissioner M. Thennarasan

Court Assistant Hemang Shah highlighted inconsistencies between the affidavits from the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) and AMC, leading the High Court to raise serious concerns about AMC’s affidavit. The court criticized AMC for preparing their affidavits just days before hearings, showing a lack of genuine effort in addressing the pollution issue. The judges doubted AMC’s claims that all STPs were functioning effectively, citing GPCB reports indicating poor conditions at the Vasna and Pirana STPs.

The High Court was particularly troubled by AMC’s strategy of bypassing untreated sewage directly into the Sabarmati River. It questioned AMC’s strategy, asking if the STPs were in such poor condition that they had to bypass sewage. AMC’s legal representative failed to answer the court’s inquiries satisfactorily.

In a stern warning, the High Court cautioned AMC officials that if untreated sewage continued to be released into the Sabarmati, it could one day flood the streets of Ahmedabad. The court demanded a plan to stop the untreated sewage bypassing and emphasized that relying on oxygen tanks to save fish was inadequate. The judges stressed the need for a comprehensive and phased cleaning plan for the Sabarmati River.

The High Court also criticized AMC for the city’s poor infrastructure, pointing out that even one day of rainfall led to severe waterlogging. The court urged AMC to demonstrate seriousness and implement effective measures to improve the city’s drainage and sewage systems.

Court Assistant Hemang Shah brought attention to the deteriorating water quality in the Sabarmati River, which has turned green and polluted, leading to the death of numerous fish. He highlighted AMC’s inadequate attempts to oxygenate the water with five to seven oxygen tanks, comparing it to a ventilator for a vast river. The court underscored the need to thoroughly clean and maintain the Sabarmati River to prevent further ecological damage.

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