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Supreme Court takes suo motu cognizance of contamination of rivers


What happened ? The Supreme Court recently took suo motu cognizance of the contamination of rivers by sewage effluents through lapses committed by municipalities.


The court directed the registration of a PIL titled “Remediation of polluted rivers” and issued notice to the center, the Ministries of Environment and Housing and urban affairs and the central pollution control board.


Duty of State : The court held that it is the duty of the state to ensure access to clean drinking water which is included in the right to Life.


The court directed the CPCB to submit a report identifying municipalities along the river which have not installed total treatment plants for sewage as per the requirement or have gaps in ensuring that the sewage is not discharged untreated into the river.


Relevant legal provisions:

  • Article 21 of the Constitution includes ‘the right of enjoyment of pollution-free water an air for full enjoyment of life.’

  • Article 51A provides a fundamental duty on every citizen to protect and improve the natural environment, including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife.

  • Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 974 provides for prevention and control of water pollution and to maintain or restore the wholesomeness of water.

  • Environment Protection Act, 1986 also punishes for pollution water.

  • Section 277 of the Indian Penal Code punishes the person who pollutes a public spring or reservoir.


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