The National Green Tribunal has ordered the state government to clean up the Kestopur and Bagjola canals fast and set a deadline linked to the project.
The canals flow through the northern fringes of Kolkata — Bidhannagar, Dum Dum and New Town — and play a key role in draining out effluents and rainwater.
The case on the canals was last heard on February 8 but the order could be accessed only late on Wednesday.
The eastern zonal bench of the tribunal comprising Justice R. Amit Sthalekar and expert member Saibal Dasgupta asked the chief secretary “to look into the matter personally and take necessary steps by issuing directions to the finance department”.
The bench made the statement when it was pointed out that a number of proposals related to the dredging of canals were awaiting the finance department’s clearance.
The tribunal had in 2017 suo motu taken up the case related to the Kestopur and Bagjola canals after their sorry state came to the notice of Justice S.P. Wangdi, who then headed the eastern zonal bench.
“I have been pushing the issue since then,” said environment activist Subhas Datta, amicus curiae in the case.
The urban development department had on February 7 submitted an affidavit to the bench, saying seven sewage treatment plants planned to be set up to treat the polluted water of the canals would be ready by May 2024.
The bench, however, directed the department to bring forward the deadline by a year. “…considering the seriousness of long-term measures for execution at different stages, the target date shall be June 2023,” the bench said in its order, a copy of which is with The Telegraph.
The tribunal also asked the irrigation department to complete the renovation of the Chitpore lockgate of the Kestopur canal by June 2022.
“We have received the order and will act accordingly,” said Poushali Banerjee, a lawyer who represented the urban development department.