The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Green bench asks for Ganga clean-up report

Calcutta, June 27: The green bench of Calcutta High Court today directed the West Bengal Pollution Control Board to appoint agencies to prepare a report on wastewater discharge into the Hooghly by municipalities along its banks.

The court also directed the board to submit, within eight weeks, a comprehensive report giving details on whether the civic bodies had taken measures to treat the sewage before letting it flow into the river.

The bench of Chief Justice A.K. Mathur and Justice A. Bannerjee passed this directive while hearing the Ganga pollution case on a petition by lawyer-activist M.C. Mehta.

Environmental activist Subhash Dutta alleged that there were at least 34 municipalities on both sides of the bank and many of these municipalities were letting untreated sewage water into the river.

The court also asked the pollution control board to inform it of steps taken to stop the discharge of untreated effluents from hotels in Digha and Darjeeling, the stateís most popular holiday destinations.

The boardís counsel, Manik Das, said almost all the hotels in Digha had already taken precautionary measures but the hotels in Darjeeling were yet to do so.

In a separate matter, the bench asked advocate-general Balai Ray to inform the court of steps the state government had taken in regard to the desiltation of Doodhpukur, the pond adjacent to the Shiv temple in Tarakeswar, Hooghly.

In January, Ray had assured the court that the government would take all possible steps to purify the water of the pond. The water is considered holy and drunk by devotees .

Earlier, the general secretary of Howrah Gantantrik Nagarik Samity, the petitioner, had submitted a test report of the pondís water. The examination of the water samples revealed the presence of several harmful bacteria.

Panchayat hearing

The high court today also ruled that cases related to panchayat polls would be heard by munsifs, those who exclusively hear civil matters, in the district courts.

The court held that petitions concerning panchayat elections would have to be disposed of within six months of their being filed.

The judgment implies that the state government will have to amend certain provisions of the West Bengal Panchayat (Elections) Act, 1974.

Many cases alleging irregularities in the election process were filed from many parts of the state after the panchayat polls held in May.

Today, Justice Amitava Lala declined to hear the 39 cases that came up for hearing and said cases relating to panchayat elections should be heard by general courts.

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