River Tawi :The Liquid Auschwitz Chamber Of Jammu || LIVE IMAGE


Jammu, the winter capital of the J&K state is struggling for life;struggling between the deep sea and the devil. It is not our survival that worries us but it is that of our dear and near ones of the coming generations. For whom are we leaving the diseased hell stares us from point blank..The way authorities behave in discharging their duties to keep the environment clean of the winter capital of the state and elsewhere reminds us of the spine chilling horror stories of the gas chambers of Auschwitz . Speaking reason, authorities are created and assigned to ensure environment that is as clean and hygienic as the standards prescribe. In light of the constitution and as upheld by the apex court, we have a fundamental guarantee to have right to safe health. It makes one to think without out any margin of doubt that dereliction of duties when overlooked or condoned will always be accounted for. However, contrary seems to be true. One is compelled to smell the rat of a hidden agenda. The frightening reality reminds us of the infamous Auschwitz Gas chambers where from early 1942 until late 1944 at least 1.1 million prisoners were killed with the pesticide Zyklon B after luring for a good hygienic bath that would follow by serving delicious hot coffee !.

Looking at the affairs in Jammu where we have State pollution Control Board and Municipal Corporation to take care of hygienic sewerage system solid and liquid waste and mixed garbage of sundry nature to ensure their safe disposal, it is natural to expect that standard procedures are in place to ensure at all cost the requisite cleanliness and hygiene as per norms.

However, unrestrained release of sewage and dumping of urban waste has squeezed life out of the Tawi river. While major responsibility lies with the Department of Irrigation and Flood Control under theJammu and Kashmir Water Resources( Regulation and Management Act, 2010 for the improvement in the physical integrity of water courses, lakes and springs and to keep and maintain them pollution free . But, it is to be regretted that they have adopted an approach of non concern even disowned the rivers, streams and nallah that fall under its jurisdiction under the riparian law. It was with the intervention of the former Irrigation Minister Sh Sham Lal Sharma who made them realize that irrigation and flood departments were the custodians of these responsibilities and had to take the responsibility in that regard. It is well known that even mining of minor products cannot be carried without the Department's consent and that too only after environmental assessment is done of the spots to be leased for minor mineral products from the rivers and other sources. It needs no gain saying, that Mining and Minerals Department too has played havoc with the health of water bodies with reckless mining that has almost killed them. Even repeated pleas of the Fisheries Department to save aqua life fell on deaf ears.

Next to act in this mandatory function is the J&K State Pollution Control Board that has to take action to ensure wholesome water pollution free requirements under water and environment protection laws. It is not as though the department is not aware but lacks will and concern to act. Ironically the Board did carried a survey about the water health of the river, during 2007-08 and a report was published in March 2009 by Dr C.M. Seth, the Chairman of the Board.. However, after the report was drawn, no follow up action exercising powers under Water Act was undertaken or exercised to ask the polluters to take remedial measures to maintain and restore the wholesomeness of river water in terms of their ecological sustainability under the water Act 1974.

Stringent penalties have been provided for the infringement of the provision of the Act's Section 25 of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution)1974 which provides for imprisonment for a minimum term of six months, but which may extended to for 7 years and fine . The Department of Ecology, Environment and Remote Sensing, J&K too did a analytic assessment at the cost of lakhs of rupees under Sh Suresh Chug. and department of environment science ,Department of Environment Sciences in the University of Jammu, too spent money and time; hired expertise to analyze and draft a report about Tawi river pollution in its vicinity. However, what is funny is that Jammu University itself is a violator dumping and pouring waste in the Tawi river, but reports are consigned to dust. (SPCB a lone battle against polythene, the Jammu Municipal Corporation (JMC), it seems, has also run out of steam. "While the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) has major responsibility, the Jammu Municipal Corporation (JMC) cannot enforce the ban all alone," said JMC Health Officer Dr Mohammed Saleem Khan in a bid to convey the magnitude of the problem The precautionary principles and the polluter pays principle have been accepted as part of the law even as Art 21 of the Constitution on India guarantees protection of life and personal liberty,

In view of the constitutional guarantee and statutory provision we have no hesitation in holding that the precautionary principles and the polluter pays principles are part of the environmental law of the country. The Apex Court in the case of Municipal council Ratlam v/s Vardhi Chand AIR 1980SC 1622 has expressed its view " where directive principles have found statutory expression in Do's and Don'ts the court will not sit idle and allow Municipal Government to become a statutory mockery .The law will relentlessly be enforced and the plea of poor finance will be poor alibi when people in misery cry for justice. The dynamics of the judicial process of the Criminal Procedure Code (as here) but also through activated tort consciousness. The office in charge and even the elected representative will have to face the penalty of the law if what the constitutional follows up legislative direct them to do are defied or denied wrongfully. Apart from it Forest ,Wildlife Protection Department has also adopted a posture to see nothing; do nothing to stop deforestation encroachment of its land.

Environment Pollution is linked to Health and is violation of right to life with dignity: In T. Ramakrishna Rao vs. Hyderabad Development Authority, the Andhra Pradesh High Court observed: Protection of the environment is not only the duty of the citizens but also the obligation of the State and it's all other organs including the Courts. The enjoyment of life and its attainment and fulfillment guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution embraces the protection and preservation of nature's gift without which life cannot be enjoyed fruitfully. The slow poisoning of the atmosphere caused by the environmental pollution and spoliation should be regarded as amounting to violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. But is any one listening? One hopes that Jammu maintains its glorious reputation as the city of temples. And not a city that is in the making of another Auschwitz

 (The writer is a Jammu based environmentalist and a regular contributor to this Website .)

(Feedback at: blparimoo@gmail.com)

 By- Bushan Parimoo 
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