The Gujarat High Court has said it is "very disturbing" to note that the laboratories of sewage treatment plants (STPs) established to clean polluted water before it is released in the Sabarmati river in Ahmedabad indulged in manipulation of records, and asked the local civic body to look into the issue.
The manipulation of records was revealed in a report submitted by a committee formed by the court to look into pollution in the river while hearing a suo motu PIL.
A division bench of Justices JB Pardiwala and Vaibhavi Nanavati, in an order made available online on Wednesday, directed the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) to ensure "scientific operation of all the STPs," and explore in situ (on site) treatment of the drains carrying sewage into the Sabarmati river.
"It is very disturbing to note that the laboratories of the STPs run and managed by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation were found indulging in manipulation of the records," the bench said in the order delivered on October 21.
The court is hearing a suo motu PIL based on media reports of polluted water dumped into the Sabarmati river without being treated properly in accordance with set norms.
The High Court said, as per the report submitted to it by the committee, the laboratories' staff were ill-trained and their data indicated repetition.
"The committee, in so many words, has stated in its report that the in-house operating and monitoring mechanism of the STP plants and their laboratories is insubstantial," said the court.
The bench directed the AMC to immediately look into the affairs of the laboratories as they appear to be not functioning in the manner as the law expects such facilities to operate.
"In fact, it is the duty of the Gujarat Pollution Control Board to keep a close watch on such laboratories ... If there are inefficient or unqualified people or technicians in the laboratories, then the contract should be immediately terminated in accordance with law and fresh appointments shall be made of qualified and efficient staff," it stated.
The court further directed the AMC to undertake regular exercise of verification of data as well as identify all unauthorised industrial wastewater connections.
The High Court asked the Chief Secretary to keep a close watch on the PIL and extend full cooperation and remain in constant touch with the (Ahmedabad) municipal commissioner, "with a view to make a sincere attempt to bring around some better and positive results," to pollution in the Sabarmati River.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)