HC orders shutdown of Kanpur tanneries for ‘polluting’ Ganga

The Allahabad High Court on Friday directed that chromium-based tanneries in Kanpur be closed as they contributed to pollution in the river Ganga in an unprecedented manner.

The court was informed the current chromium level in the Ganga water was well over 100 times the permissible limit. There are nearly 100 such listed tanneries operating in Kanpur.

The court also took strong note of the lack of interest being shown by the state government's Urban Development department and the Uttar Pradesh Jal Nigam in the matter.

Hearing a PIL on abatement of pollution in the river Ganga, a division bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and Arun Tandon passed the direction after the reports submitted before it by the Central Pollution Control Board and the UPPCB revealed the chromium level in the water of the river Ganga was 248 mg per litre, against a permissible level of only 2 mg per litre.

"The reports said the concentration of chromium in the river Ganga when it passed through Kanpur was 124 times more than the permissible level. This is a health hazard," said amicus curiae A K Gupta, who is arguing in the matter. He added the report said that such high level of chromium concentration may even cause cancer.

Overall, there are 402 listed tanneries, besides many unlisted ones, in Kanpur. Of these, at least 100 use chromium-based systems for processing of leather. More than 80 per cent of the waste water flows untreated and unchecked into the river Ganga.

"The court also asked the authorities concerned to ensure 24-hour power supply to the existing sewerage treatment plant (STP) so that some check can be kept on waste-water flowing unchecked into Ganga," said Gupta.

Dealing with river pollution in Allahabad, the court also asked the Allahabad Municipal Commissioner to ensure the encroachments in various areas in the city were removed.

"Illegal structures and encroachments add to the amount of waste and sewerage generated in the city and, in the absence of adequate sewerage treatment capacity, this flows directly into the river leading to pollution. Hence, the court asked the municipal authority to ensure illegal structures and encroachments were removed," said Gupta.

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