Monday, 30th October 2017

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HC asks Tata to come clean

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  • Published 1.03.12

Jharkhand High Court on Wednesday directed Tata Steel to prepare an action plan to remove slag from Kharkai and Subernarekha, the rap coming three days before the founder’s day celebrations and after almost a decade of shifting views on the contentious issue of industrial waste poisoning Jamshedpur’s border rivers.

Way back in 2003, Tata Steel had said that it dumped slag to rein in flash floods, a position it maintained for long even after it said that the very practice had long been dumped.

Last August, however, a division bench of then acting Chief Justice Prakash Tatia and Justice H.C. Mishra, punched holes in this dumping-for-public-interest theory and asked East Singhbhum deputy commissioner to launch a probe while hearing a PIL of BJP leader Sarayu Roy on encroachment of water bodies.

On Wednesday, the division bench of Chief Justice Prakash Tatia and Justice Aparesh Kumar Singh, hearing Roy’s PIL, directed the steel giant to make a plan to remove slag that had “obstructed and narrowed riverbeds”.

The court added it would take up the matter again on March 26.

The company in its affidavit had admitted that slag had been dumped in the rivers till 2003, but discontinued. The court was told by amicus curiae (Latin term for “friend of the court”) Indrajeet Sinha that as the company had admitted to dumping slag in rivers, it should in all prudence, “take steps to clear its own mess”.

Roy’s counsel S.N. Pathak told the court that Tata Steel’s slag dumping had constricted Subernarekha’s riverbed and led to Kharkai on the verge of extinction. He added that most water bodies in the state were held hostage to water hyacinth.

“Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board and the state government are also aware of the facts, but have done nothing,” the counsel said.

What should Tata Steel do to revive the rivers?