Mehta Vs. Union of India & Ors  INSC 7 (12 January 1988)
E.S. (J) Venkataramiah, E.S. (J) Singh, K.N. (J)
1988 AIR 1115 1988 SCR (2) 530 1988 SCC (1) 471 JT 1988 (1) 69
control, prevention and abatement of pollution of Ganga water-In Kanpur, U.P.-Responsibility of the municipal body in respect thereof.
Court in M.C. Mehta v. Union of India & ors.,  4 S.C.C. 463 had
issued certain directions with regard to the industries in which the business
of tanning was being carried on near Kanpur on the banks of the River Ganga. On
that occasion, the Court had directed that the case in respect of the municipal
bodies and the industries which were responsible for the pollution of the water
in the river Ganga would be taken up next, and accordingly, the Court took up
for consideration this case against the Kanpur Nagar Mahapalika, since it was
found that Kanpur was one of the biggest cities on the banks of the river Ganga.
the laws governing the local bodies, the nagar Mahapalikas and Municipal Boards
were primarily responsible for the maintenance of cleanliness in the areas
under their jurisdiction and the protection of their environments. Under the
water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 (the 'Water Act')
provisions had been made for the establishment of Boards for the prevention and
control of water pollution, etc. The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986,
contained provisions relating to the control, prevention and abatement of
pollution of water.
Parliament and the State Legislature had thus enacted laws, imposing duties on
the Central and State Boards and the municipalities for the prevention and
control of pollution of water, no adequate action had been taken pursuant to
many of their provisions. 274.50 million litres a day of sewage water was being
discharged into the river Ganga from the
city of Kanpur, which was the highest in the State
of U.P. Sewer cleaning had never been done
systematically in Kanpur, and there was mal-functioning and
choking of the city sewerage. Pollution of water in the river Ganga was of the highest degree at Kanpur, and a large extent of misery,
sickness and death due to infectious diseases arose out of water supplies. The
petitioner filed this writ petition as a Public Interest Litigation against the
public nuisance 531 caused by the serious pollution of the river Ganga, for protecting the lives of the people using the Ganga water.
of the petition, the Court, ^
The petitioner before the Court was no doubt not a riparian owner. He was a
person interested in protecting the lives of the people who made use of the
water flowing in the river Ganga and his
right to maintain the petition could not be disputed. The nuisance caused by
the pollution was a public nuisance, wide-spread in range and indiscriminate in
its effect, and it would not be reasonable to expect any particular person to
take proceedings to stop it as distinct from the community at large. The
petition was entertained as a Public Interest Litigation. On the facts and in
the circumstances of the case, the Court was of the view that the petitioner
was entitled to move the Court in order to enforce the statutory provisions
which imposed duties on the municipal authorities and the Boards under the
water Act, on account of failure of which to obey the statutory duties for
several years, the water in the River Ganga at Kanpur had become so much
polluted that it could no longer be used by the people for drinking or bathing.
The Nagar Mahapalika of Kanpur had to bear the major
responsibility for the pollution of the river near the Kanpur city. The construction of certain
works, undertaken under the Ganga Action Plan at Kanpur to improve the sewerage system and prevent pollution of the
water in the river Ganga, were going on at a snail's pace.
The Court expected the authorities concerned would complete those works within
the target dates mentioned in their counter-affidavits. The Court noticed that
the Kanpur Nagar Mahapalika had not yet submitted its proposals for sewage
treatment works to the State Board constituted under Water Act, and directed
that the mahapalika should submit its proposals to the State Board within six
months (from the date of this judgment).
552A-F] The Court further directed;
The Kanpur Nagar Mahapalika should take action under the provisions of the
Uttar Pradesh Nagar Mahapalika Adhiniyam, 1959, or the relevant bye-laws made thereunder
to prevent pollution of the water in the river Ganga by waste accumulated at the large number of dairies in Kanpur having about 80,000 cattle. The
dairies might either be shifted outside the city so that the waste at the
dairies did not ultimately reach the river Ganga,
or, in the alternative, the Mahapalika might arrange for the removal of the
waste by motor vehicles, in which 532 event the owners of the diaries could not
claim any compensation. The Mahapalika should immediately take action to
prevent collection of manure at private manure pits inside the city; [552G-H;
553A] (ii) The Kanpur Nagar Mahapalika should take immediate steps to increase
the size of the sewers in the labour colonies, so 13 that sewage might be
carried smoothly through the sewerage system, and wherever sewerage line was
not yet constructed, steps should be taken to lay it; [553B] (iii) Immediate
action should also be taken by the Kanpur Nagar Mahapalika to construct
sufficient number of public latrines and urinals to prevent defecation by
people on the open land. The proposal to levy any charge for use of such
latrines and urinals shall be dropped as that would be a reason for poor people
not to use the public latrines and urinals. The cost of maintenance of
cleanliness of those latrines and urinals had to be borne by the Mahapalika.
The Court was of the view that since the problem of pollution of the water in
the river Ganga had become very acute, the High Court should not ordinarily
grant stay of criminal proceedings in cases where the Board constituted under
the Water Act initiated any proceedings to prosecute industrialists or other
persons who polluted the water in the Ganga, as the stay orders on petitions
under section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, frustrated the
attempt of the Board to enforce the provisions of the Water Act, and further,
even if such an order of stay was made in any extraordinary case, the High
Court should dispose of the case within a short period, say about two months
from the date of the institution of the case, and further, should take up for
hearing all the cases where such orders had been issued under section P 482, Cr.P.C.,
staying prosecutions under the Water Act. [553E-G] The Court further directed
that the practice of throwing corpses and semi-burnt corpses into the river Ganga should be immediately brought to an end. Steps
should be taken by the Kanpur Nagar Mahapalika and the police authorities to
ensure that the dead bodies or G- half-burnt bodies were not thrown into the
river Ganga. [553H; 554A] In future j
application for licences to establish new industries should be refused unless
adequate provision had been made for the treatment of trade effluents flowing
out of the factories, and immediate action should be taken against the existing
industries found responsible for the pollution of water. [554B] 533 Having
regard to the grave consequences of the Pollution of water and air and need for
protecting and improving the natural environment, considered to be one of the
fundamental duties under the Constitution, it was the duty of the Central
Government to direct all the educational institutions throughout India to teach
at least for one hour in a week lessons on the protection and improvement of
the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life in the
first ten classes. The Central Government should get the text books written for
the said purpose and distributed to the educational institutions free of cost.
of teachers, who teach this subject, by the introduction of short term courses
for such training shall also be considered. This should be done throughout India.
The above directions of the Court would apply mutatis mutandis to all the other
Mahapalikas and Municipalities, having jurisdiction over the areas through
which the river Ganga flows.[555C]
The children should be taught about the need for maintaining cleanliness, of
the houses both inside and outside and of the streets in which they live. Clean
surroundings lead to healthy body and healthy mind. [554E] In order to rouse
amongst the people the consciousness of cleanliness of environments, the
Government of India and the Governments of the States and the Union Territories
may consider the desirability of organising 'keep the city clean' week (Nagar Nirmalikarana
Saptaha) and 'keep the village clean' week (Gram Nirmalikarana Saptaha) in
every city, town and village throughout India at least once a year. During that
week, the entire city, town or village should be kept, as far as possible,
clean tidy and free from pollution of land, water and air. The organisation of
the week should be entrusted to the Nagar Mahapalikas, Town Municipalities,
Municipal Corporation, Village Panchayats or such other authorities, having
jurisdiction over the area in question. If the authorities decide to organise
such a week it may not be celebrated in the same week throughout India but may be staggered depending upon
the convenience of the particular city, town or village. During that week, all
the citizens, including the members of the executive, Parliament, State
Legislatures and Judiciary may be requested to co-operate with the local
authorities and take part in the celebrations by rendering free personal
would surely create a national awareness of the problems faced by the people by
the appalling allround deterioration of the environment which is witnessed
555A-B] 534 M.C. Mehta v. Union of India & others,  4 S.C.C. 463
and Pride of Derby and Derbyshire Angling Association v.
Celanese Limited,  Chancery 149.
JURISDICTION: Writ Petition No. 3727 of 1985.
Article 32 of the Constitution of India.) Petitioner-in-person .
Additional Solictor General, R.K. Jain, Vinod Bobde, R.N. Trivedi, K.N. Bhat, Tapash
Ray, B.R.L. Iyenger R.P. Singh, R.P. Kapur, Ravinder Narain, S. Sukumaran, C.B.
Singh, S.K. Dhingra, P.K. Jain, D.N. Goburdhan, Arvind Kumar, Ms. Laxmi Arvind,
Vineet Kumar, Deepak K. Thakur, T.V. S. N. Chari, Ms. Vrinda Grover, Badri Nath,
Rakesh Khanna, Mukul Mudgal, A.K. Ghose, M.M. Gangadeb, Probir Mirtra, Sushil
Kumar Jain, Saryakant, Pappy T. Mathews, Mrs, Mamta Kachhawaha, Mrs. Shobha Dikshit,
G.S. Misra, S.R. Srivastava, Parijat Sinha, R. Mohan, Ms. .Bina Gupta, Ranjit
Kumar, Krishna Kumar, R.C. Verma, Arun Minocha, Sri Narain, E.C. Agrawala, S.R.
Setia, H.K. Puri, T.S. Rana, Pramod Swarup, Ashok Grover, S. Markandeya, Swarup.
Ms, Lalita Kohli, K.C. Dua, Rajbirbal, R.A. Gupta and Ms. A. Subhashini for the
Judgment of the Court was delivered by VENKATARAMIAH, J. By our judgment dated
September 22, 1987 in M.C. Mehta v. Union of India & others,  4
S.C.C. 463, we issued certain directions with regard to the industries in which
the business of tanning was being carried on at Jajmau near Kanpur on the banks
of the river Ganga. On that occasion we directed that the case in respect of
the municipal bodies and the industries which were responsible for the
pollution of the water in the river Ganga would be taken up for consideration
on the next date of hearing. Accordingly, we took up for consideration first
the case against the municipal bodies. Since it was found that Kanpur was one of the biggest cities on
the banks of the river Ganga, we took up for consideration the
case in respect of the Kanpur Nagar Mahapalika.
Nagar Mahapalika is established under the provisions of the Uttar Pradesh Nagar
Mahapalika Adhiniyam, 1959 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Adhiniyam'). Sub-
section (3) of section 535 1 of the Adhiniyam, which is to be found in its 1st
Chapter, provides that the 1st Chapter of the Adhiniyam shall come into
operation at once and the remaining provisions in relation to a city shall come
into operation from such date as the State Government may by notification in
the official Gazette appoint in that behalf and different dates may be
appointed for different provisions. In exercise of the powers conferred by the
said sub-section and in continuation of a notification dated September 28, 1959
bringing into operation sections 579 and 580 of the Adhiniyam, the Governor of
Uttar Pradesh was pleased to issue a notification dated January 18, 1960
appointing the 1st day of February, 1960 as the date on which the remaining
provisions of the Adhiniyam and the three Schedules, appended thereto, would come
into operation in relation to the cities of Kanpur, Allahabad, Varanasi, Agra
and Lucknow, as constituted under section 3 of the Adhiniyam. The duties and
powers of the Mahapalika and Mahapalika authorities are set out in Chapter V of
the Adhiniyam. Clauses (iii), (vii) and (viii) of section 114 of the Adhiniyam,
which incorporates the obligatory duties of the Mahapalika, read as follows:
Obligatory duties of the Mahapalika-It shall be incumbent on the Mahapalika to
make reasonable and adequate provision, by any means or measures which it is
lawfully competent to it to use or to take, for each of the following matters,
namely,- . . .. . . .. ... . .. .. . . . .. . . .. ..... ..
collection and removal of sewage, offensive matter and rubbish and treatment
and disposal thereof including establishing and maintaining farm or factory;
management and maintenance of all Mahapalika waterworks and the construction or
acquisition of new works necessary for a sufficient supply of water for public
and private purposes;
guarding from pollution water used for human consumption and preventing
polluted water from being so used;
536 Sections 251, 388, 396, 297, 398, 405, and 407 of the Adhiniyam read as
Provision of means for disposal of sewage- The Mukhya Nagar Adhikari may, for
the purpose of receiving, treating, storing, disinfecting, distributing or
otherwise disposing of sewage, construct any work within or without the City or
purchase or take on lease any land, building, engine, material or apparatus
either within or without the City or enter into any arrangement with any person
for any period not exceeding twenty years for the removal or disposal of sewage
within or without the City.
... . .... ........... .. ... .. ..
Provision may be made by Mukhya Nagar Adhikari for collection, etc., of excrementitious
and polluted matter-(1) The Mukhya Nagar Adhikari may give public notice of his
intention to provide, in such portion of the City as he may specify, for the
collection, removal and disposal by Mahapalika agency, of all excrementitious
and polluted matter from privies, urinals, and cess- pools, and thereupon it
shall be the duty of the Mukhya Nagar Adhikari to take measures for the daily
collection, removal and disposal of such matter from all premises situated in
such portion of the City.
any such portion as is mentioned in sub-section (1) and in any premises,
wherever situated, in which there is a water-closet or privy connected with a mahapalika
drain, it shall not be lawful, except with the written permission of the Mukhya
Nagar Adhikari, for any person who is not employed by or on behalf of the Mukhya
Nagar Adhikari to discharge any of the duties of scavengers.
Removal of carcasses of dead animals-(I) It shall be the duty of the Mukhya Nagar
Adhikari to provide for the removal of the carcasses of all animals dying
within the City.
The occupier of any premises in or upon which 537 any animal shall die or in or
upon which the carcass of any animal shall be found, and the person having the
charge of any animal which dies in the street or in any open place shall,
within three hours after the death of such animal or. if the death occurs at
night within three hours after sunrise. report the death of such animal at the
nearest office of the Mahapalika Health Department.
For every carcass removed by mahapalika agency, whether from any private
premises or from public street or place, a fee for the removal of such amount
as shall be fixed by the Mukhya Nagar Adhikari shall be paid by the owner of
the animal, or, if the owner is not known. by the occupier of the premises in
or upon which, or by the person in whose charge, the said animal died.
Prohibition of cultivation, use of manure, irrigation injurious to health-If
the Director of Medical and Health Services or the Civil Surgeon or the Nagar Swasthya
Adhikari certifies that the cultivation of any description of crops or the use
of any kind of manure or the irrigation of land in any specified manner- (a) in
a place within the limits of a City is injurious or facilitates practices which
are injurious to the health of persons dwelling in the neighbourhood, or (b) in
a place within or beyond the limits of a City is likely to contaminate the
water-supply of such City or otherwise render it unfit for drinking purpose,
the Mukhya Nagar Adhikari may by public notice prohibit the cultivation of such
crop, the use of such manure or the use of the method of irrigation so reported
to be injurious, or impose such conditions with respect thereto as may prevent
the injury or contamination:
that when, on any land in respect of which such notice is issued, the act
prohibited has been practised in the ordinary course of husbandry for the five
successive years next preceding the date of prohibition, compensation shall be
paid from the Mahapalika Fund to all persons interested therein for damage
caused to them by such prohibition.
398. Power to require owners to clear away noxious vegetation-The Mukhya Nagar Adhikari
may, by notice. require the owner or occupier of any land to clear away and
remove any vegetation or undergrowth which may be injurious to health or
offensive to the neighbourhood.
Power to require removal of nuisance arising from tanks, etc.- The Mukhya Nagar
Adhikari may by notice require the owner or occupier of any land or building to
cleanse, repair, cover, fill up or drain off a private well, tank, reservoir. pool,
depression or excavation therein which may appear to the Mukhiya Nagar Adhikari
to be injurious to health or offensive to the neighbourhood:
that the owner or occupier may require the Mukhya Nagar Adhikari to acquire at
the expense of the Mahapalika or otherwise provide, any land or rights in land
necessary for the purpose of effecting drainage ordered under this section 407.
Any place may at any time be inspected for purpose of preventing spread of
dangerous disease-The Mukhya Nagar Adhikari may at any time, by day or day
night, without notice or after giving such notice of his intention as shall in
the circumstances, appear to him to be reasonable, inspect any place in which
any dangerous disease is reputed or suspected to exist, and take such mea sures
as he shall think fit to prevent the spread of the said disease beyond such
place. " The above provisions deal with the specific duties of the Nagar Mahapalika
or the Mukhya Nagar . Adhikari appointed under the Adhiniyam with regard to the
disposal of sewage and protection of the environment in or around the City to
which the Adhiniyam applies. There are almost similar provisions in sections 7,
189, 19 l and other provisions of the Uttar Pradesh Municipalities Act, 1916
which applies to the smaller municipal bodies. The Uttar Pradesh Water Supply
and Sewerage Act, 1975 imposes statutory duties on the authorities mentioned
therein regarding the provision of water supply to the cities and towns and
construction of sewerage systems in them. The perusal of these provisions in
the laws governing the local bodies shows that the 539 Nagar Mahapalikas and
the Minicipal Boards are primarily responsible for the maintenance of
cleanliness in the areas under their jurisdiction and the protection of their
environment. We have, in the judgment delivered by us on September 22, 1987,
briefly referred to the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974
(Act No. 6 of 1974) (hereinafter referred to as 'the Water Act') in which
provisions have been made for the establishment of the Boards for the
prevention and control of water pollution, for conferring on and assigning to
such Boards powers and functions relating thereto and for matters connected
therewith. In the Water Act the expressions 'pollution', 'sewage effluent',
'sewer', 'stream', and 'trade effluent' are defined as follows:
Definitions-In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires- . . . . . .....
.. . .. . . . . . . . . . . . .
'pollution' means such contamination of water or such alteration of the
physical, chemical or biological properties of water or such discharge of any
sewage or treade effluent or of any other liquid, gaseous or solid substance
into water (whether directly or indirectly) as may or is likely to, create a
nuisance or render such water harmful or injurious to public health or safety,
or to domestic, commercial, industrial, agricultural or other legitimate uses,
or to the life and health of animals or plants or of acquatic organisms;
. . .
. . .... . . . . . . . . . . . .. . .. .. .
effluent' means effluent from any sewerage system or sewage disposal works and
includes sullage from open drains;
means any conduit pipe or channel, open or closed, carrying sewage or trade
. . .
. . . .. ... . .. .. . .. ....... .. . .
includes- (i) river;
(ii) water course (whether flowing or for the time being dry);
water (whether natural or artificial);
sea or tidal waters to such extent or, as the case may be, to such point as the
State may, by notification in the official Gazette, specify in this behalf;
effluent' includes any liquid, gaseous or solid substance which is discharged
from any premises used for carrying on any trade or industry, other than
domestic sewage . " Section 3 and 4 of the Water Act provide for the constitution
of the Central Board and State Boards respectively. A State Board has been
constituted under section 4 of the Water Act in the State of Uttar Pradesh.
16 of the Water Act sets out the functions of the Central Board and section 17
of the Water Act lays down the functions of the State Board. The functions of
the Central Board are primarily advisory and supervisory in character.
Central Board is also required to advise the Central Government on any matter
concerning the prevention and control of water pollution and to co-ordinate the
activities of the State Boards. The Central Board is also required to provide
technical assistance and guidance to the State Boards, carry out and sponsor
investigations and research relating to problems of water pollution and
prevention, control or abatement of water pollution. The functions of the State
Board are more comprehensive. In addition to advising the State Government on
any matter concerning the prevention, control or abatement of water pollution,
the State Board is required among other things
plan a comprehensive programme for the prevention, control or abatement of
pollution of streams and wells in the State and to secure the execution
collect and disseminate information relating to water pollution and the
prevention, control or abatement thereof;
encourage, conduct and participate in investigations and research relating to
problems of water pollution and prevention, control or abatement of water
inspect sewage or trade effluents, works and plants for the treatment of sewage
and trade effluents;
review plans, specifications or other data relating to plants set up for the
treatment of 541 water, works for the purification thereof and the system for
the disposal of sewage or trade effluents or in connection with the grant of
any consent as required by the Water Act;
to evolve economical and reliable methods of treatment of sewage and trade
effluents, having regard to the peculiar conditions of soils, climate and water
resources of different regions and more especially the prevailing flow
characteristics of water in streams and wells which render it impossible to
attain even the minimum degree of dilution; and
to lay down standards of treatment of sewage and trade effluents to be
discharged into any particular stream taking into account the minimum fair
weather dilution available in that stream and the tolerance limits of pollution
permissible in the water of the stream, after the discharge of such effluents.
State Board has been given- certain executive powers to implement the
provisions of the Water Act. Sections 20, 21 and 23 of the Water Act confer
power on the State Board to obtain information necessary for the implementation
of the provisions of the Water Act, to take samples of effluents and to analyse
them and to follow the procedure prescribed in connection therewith and the
power of entry and inspection for the purpose of enforcing the provisions of
the Water Act. Section 24 of the Water Act prohibits the use of stream or well
for disposal of polluting matters etc. contrary to the provisions incorporated
in that section. Section 32 of the Water Act confers the power on the State
Board to take certain emergency measures in case of pollution of stream or
it is apprehended by a Board that the water in any stream or well is likely to
be polluted by reason of the disposal of any matter therein or of any likely
disposal of any matter therein, or otherwise, the Board may under section 33 of
the Water Act make an application to a court not inferior to that of a
Presidency Magistrate or a Magistrate of the first class, for restraining the
person who is likely to cause such pollution from so causing.
Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, which has also been referred to in out
earlier judgment, also contains certain provisions relating to the control,
prevention and abatement of pollution of water and one significant provision in
that Act is what is contained in section 17 thereof, which provides that where
an offence under that Act is committed by any Department of Government, the
Head of that Department shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence and is
liable to be punished.
unfortunate that although Parliament and the State Legislature have enacted the
aforesaid laws imposing duties on the Central and State Boards and the
municipalities for prevention and control of 542 pollution of water, many of
those provisions have just remained on paper without any adequate action being
taken pursuant thereto. After the above petition was filed and notice was sent
to the Uttar Pradesh State Board constituted under the Water Act, an affidavit
has been filed before this Court by Dr.- G.N. Misra, Scientific officer of the
U.P. Pollution Control Board setting out the information which the Board was
able to collect regarding the measures taken by the several local bodies and
also by the U.P. Pollution Control Board in order to prevent the pollution of
the water flowing in the river Ganga. A copy of the report relating to the
inspection made at Kanpur on 23.11.87/24.11.87 by Shri Tanzar Ullah Khan,
Assistant Environmental Engineer and Shri A.K. Tiwari, Junior Engineer enclosed
to- the counter- affidavit as Exhibit K-5 reads thus:
inspection made on 23.11.87/24.1.87 alongwith Sri A.K. Tiwari, Junior Engineer.
are the facts observed at the time of inspection.
town is situated on the southern bank of river Ganges.
present population of the town is approximately 20 lacs.
city is covered with piped water supply.
city has developed between river Ganges on the north side and river Pandu on
the south side. G.T. Road divides the city into two halves.
north side most of the area is covered by sewerage system and the sullage/sewage
is discharged without treatment into river Ganges through 17 nalas including
sewerage by-pass channel at Jajmau.
south side there is no sewerage system and the sewage/sullage are discharged
without treatment into river Pandu through 5 nalas. River Pandu joins river
Ganges near Fatehpur(Sketch enclosed).
Kanpur Nagar mahapalika has not yet submitted any proposal of sewage treatment
works to the Board.
Ikramur Rahman, A.E. Nagar Mahapalika told the Kanpur town is covered under Ganga
Action Plan and following are the proposals- (A) U. P. Jal Nigam (1) Re-modelling
of sewage pumping station at Jajmau and improvement to sewage farm.
Sewage Treatment Plant.
Jal Sansthan (1) Cleaning of Trunk and main sewers.
Integrated Environmental and sanitary Engineer project is being executed under
the Dutch Assistance in Jajmau Area.
Crash Programme (is to remove deficiencies in the existing sanitary facilities)
Laying of Industrial sewer.
U.A.S.B. Sewage Treatment Plant.
A.K.TIWARI (TANZAR ULLAH KHAN) J.E. ASSTT. ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEER."
Appendix A/1 to 'An Action Plan for Prevention of Pollution of the Ganga' gives
the following particulars relating to the quantity of sewerage generated in the
City of Kanpur which is discharged into the river Ganga and other relevant
Population Estimated water Estimated sewage Treatment in 1981 supply in 1981
generated (70% of the water supply to the city 544
lacks 392.14 million 274.50 million Nil litres a day litres a day
thus seen that 274.50 million litres a day of sewage water is being discharged
into the river Ganga from the city of Kanpur, which is the highest in the State
of Uttar Pradesh and next only to the city of Calcutta which discharges 580. 17
million litres a day of sewage water into the river Ganga. Para 4 of the
affidavit filed by Shri Jai Shanker Tewari, Executive engineer of Kanpur Nagar Mahapalika
That the pollution in river Ganga from Kanpur is occurring because of following
About 16 nalas collecting sullage water, sewage, textile waste, power plant
waste and tannery effluents used to be discharged without any treatment into
the river. However some Nalas have been trapped now.
The dairies located in the city have a cattle population of about 80.000. The
dung, fodder waste and other refuse from this cattle population is
quantitatively more than the sullage from the city of human population of over
20 lakhs. All this finds its way into the sewerage system and the nalas in the
rainy season. It has also totally choked many branches of sewers and trunk
sewers resulting in the overflow of the system.
The night soil collected from the unsewered areas of the city and thrown into
There are more than 80 tanneries in Jajmau whose effluent used to be directly
discharged into the river.
The total water supply in Kanpur is about 55 mil lion gallons per day. After
use major part of it goes down the drains, nalas and sewers;
is taken to Jajmau sewage pumping station and a part of it is being supplied to
sewage farms after diluting it with raw ganges water and the remaining part is
discharged into the river.
Defecation by economically weaker sections." 545
affidavit further states that the U.P. Jal Nigam, the U.P. Water Pollution
Control Board, the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, the
Central Leather Research Institute, the Kanpur Nagar Mahapalika, the Kanpur
Development Authority and the Kanpur Jal Sansthan have started taking action to
minimise the pollution of the river Ganga. It is also stated therein that the
financial assistance is being provided by the Central Ganga Authority through Ganga
Project Directorate, State Government, the World Bank, the Dutch Government
etc. for implementing the said measures. The said affidavit gives information
about the several works undertaken at Kanpur for minimising the pollution of the river Ganga. It also states that Rs.493.63 lacs had been spent
on those works between the years 1985 and 1987 and that the total allocation of
funds by the Central Ganga Authority for Kanpur is Rs.3694.94 lacs and that upto
the end of the current financial year it is proposed to spend Rs.785.58 lacs
(1985 to 1987-88) towards various schemes to be completed under Ganga Action
Plan. The affidavit points out that in Kanpur City sewer cleaning has never been done
systematically and in a planned way except that some sewers were cleaned by the
U.P. Jal Nigam around 1970. The main reasons for mal-functioning and choking of
the city sewerage, according to the affidavit, are
or discharging of solids, clothes, plastics, metals etc. into the sewerage
of cow dung from dairies which are located in every part of the city which
consists of about 80,000 cattle;
of under-sized sewers specially in labour colonies;
of solid wastes and malba from construction of buildings into sewers through
of mechanical equipment for sewer cleaning works; and
of funds for proper maintenance. It is asserted that the discharge of untreated
effluents into the river Ganga will be stopped upto 80% by March,
M.C. Mehta, the petitioner herein, drew our attention to the Progress Report of
the Ganges Action Plan (July 1986-January 1987) prepared by the Industrial
Toxicology Research Centre, Council of Scientific & Industrial Research. At
page 20 of the said report the details of the analysis of the Ganga water samples collected during August, 1986 to
January, 1987 from Uttar Pradesh region are furnished. That report shows that
the pollution of the water in the river Ganga
is of the highest degree at Kanpur. The Ganga
water samples taken at Kanpur show that the water in the river Ganga at Kanpur
consisted of 29.200 units (mg/ml) of iron in the month of August, 1986 when the
ISI limit for river water is 0.3 and 0.900 (mg/ml) of manganese whereas the WHO
limit of manganese for drinking water is 546 0.05. The Progress Report for the
period February 1987-June.
of Microlevel Intensive Monitoring of Ganga under Ganga Action Plan describes
the samples of the water taken from the river Ganga at Kanpur thus:
(Bio oxygen Demand) values are found to be higher than prescribed values of l.S.I.
(Chemical oxygen Demand) values are also found to be higher. These values
clearly indicate that river water is not fit for drinking, fishing and bathing
II further shows that Total Coliform and Fecal Coliform bacteria are always
found very high. This is due to disposal of large quantity of untreated
municipal waste into river Ganga. These high values of bacteria indicate that
water is not fit for drinking, bathing and fishing purpose.
improve quality of water in Ganga, all nullahs should be trapped immediately
and raw water should be treated conventionally at water works and disinfected
by chlorination " (underlining by us) In the concluding part of the said
Progress Report it is stated thus:
Ganga is grossly polluted at Kanpur. All nullahs are discharging the polluted
waste water into river Ganga. But Jajmau by pass channel, Sismau, Muir Mill,
Golf Club and Gupta Ghat nullah are discharging huge quantities of polluted
waste water, To improve the water quality of Ganga all major nullahs should be
diverted and treated.
treatment should be provided for Jajmau tanneries. Effluent treatment plants
should be installed by all major polluting industries." It is needless to
say that in the tropical developing countries a large amount of misery,
sickness and death due to infectious diseases arises out of water supplies. In Lall's
Commentaries on Water and Air Pollution Laws (2nd Edition) at pages 331 and 333
it is observed thus:
the tropics, we cannot safely take such a limited 547 view. Such Water-borne
diseases as malaria, schistosomiasis, guinea worm and yellow fever are either
terrible scourges of, or threats to, many tropical populations. The hazards
from bad water are thus much greater. Poverty is much more serious for many
tropical areas; in the rural areas-where most people live-and around the edges
of the cities, which are the fastest-growing communities. most people cannot
afford a conventionally good water supply at present, and the choice in the
short run may be between doing nothing and providing somewhat improved supply.
If an ideal water system is not possible, there are options as to what needs
should be met by the partial improvements. To make the right decisions we need
again the broad picture of water-related diseases. So, because of these two
tropical characteristics-warmth and poverty-a wider view than in temperate
lands is necessary.(p.331) . .. . .. . .. ... ..... .. .... . . .. .. .. . .
diseases-The classical water- borne diseases are due to highly infective
organisms where only rather few are needed to infect someone, relative to the
levels of pollution that readily occur. The two chief ones have a high
mortality if untreated and are diseases which a community is very anxious to escape:
Typhoid and cholera. Both are relatively fragile organisms whose sole reservoir
two diseases occur most dramatically as the 'common source out-break where a
community water supply gets contaminated by faeces from d person suffering from,
or carrying, one of the infections. Many people drink the water and a number of
these fall ill from the infection at about the same time.
is the most cosmopolitan of the classical water-borne infections. In man it
produces a severe high fever with generated systemic, more than intestinal,
symptoms. The bacteria are ingested and very few are sufficient to infect. The
typhoid patient is usually too ill to go out polluting the water and is not
infective prior o falling sick. However, a small proportion of those who
recover clinically continue to pass typhoid bacteria in their faeces for 548
months or years; these carriers are the source of water borne infections.
Gallstones predispose to the carrier state as the bacteria persist in the
inflamed gall bladder. In the tropics, lesions of Schistosoma haematobium in
the bladder also act as nide of infection, producing urinary typhoid carriers,
whilst rectal schistosomiasis combined with typhoid leads to a persistent sever
fever lasting many months. Typhoid bacteria survive well in water but do not
is in some ways similar to typhoid, but its causative bacteria are more fragile
and the clinical course is extremely dramatic. In classical cholera the onset
of diarrhoea is sudden and its volume immense so that the untreated victim has
a high probability of dying from dehydration within 24 hours or little more.
other infections are water borne but are less important than typhoid and
due to a spirochaete, has its reservoir in wild rodents which pollute the
can penetrate the skin as well as being ingested. They produce jaundice and
fever, called .Weil's disease, which is severe but not common. ' The amount of
suffering which the members of the public are likely to undergo by using highly
polluted water can be easily gathered from the above extract.
book entitled 'Water Pollution and disposal of Waste Water on Land' (1983) by
U.N. Mahida. I.S.E. (Retd) the problem of water pollution, the benefits of
control of pollution and the urgency of the problem have been dealt with. At
pages l, 2, 4 and S of the said book it is observed thus:
long as the human population was small and communities were scattered over
large areas of land, the disposal of human wastes created no problems. People
could defecate in areas surrounding villages and other habitations and leave it
to nature to dispose of the waste by assimilation in the surrounding land and
air. But as communities became more concentrated and villages and towns grew,
such a mode of disposal by natural agencies came to be replaced by organised
disposal, though again through 549 the agency of natural land and soil columns.
The collection of human excreta and its disposal in earthen trenches was
resorted to by many towns and adopted the basket privy system.
introduction of a system of water-borne sewage created new problems in the
disposal of human wastes, as now along with the earlier problem of getting rid
of solid wastes, i.e., human excreta, the problem of the disposal of the water
employed for the removal of human wastes had also to be faced. This was the
origin of the problem of sewage disposal. At first, the natural instinct was to
channelize the sewage-the soiled water-to natural streams and rivers. For a
time this mode of disposal was even considered quite efficacious. Such methods
did not create difficulties as sewage discharges were small as compared to the
stream flow. But with the increased discharge of progressively large quantities
of sewage, polluted streams became a serious menace to public health.
OF THE PROBLEM The introduction of modern water carriage systems transferred
the sewage disposal from the streets and the surroundings of townships to neighbouring
streams and rivers. This was the beginning of the problem of water pollution.
It is ironic that man, from the earliest times, has tended to dispose of his
wastes in the very streams and rivers from which most of his drinking water is
drawn. Until quite recently this was not much of a problem, but with rapid urbanisation
and industrialisation, the problem of the pollution of natural waters is
reaching alarming proportions.
most disturbing feature of this mode of disposal is that those who cause water
pollution are seldom the people who suffer from it. Cities and industries
discharge their untreated or only partially treated sewage and industrial waste
waters into neighbouring streams and thereby remove waste matter from their own
doing so, they create intense pollution in streams and rivers and expose the
downstream riparian population to dangerously unhygienic conditions. In
addition to the with- 550 drawal of water for downstream towns and cities, in
many developing countries, numerous villages and riparian agricultural
population generally rely on streams and rivers for drinking water for
themselves and their cattle, for cooking, bathing, washing and numerous other
uses. It is thus riparian population that specially needs protection from the
growing menace of water pollution. (pages 1 and 2)
OF CONTROL The benefits which result from the prevention of water pollution
include a general improvement in the standard of health of the population, the
possibility of restoring stream waters to their original beneficial state and
rendering them fit as sources of water supply, and the maintenance of clean and
healthy surroundings which would then offer attractive recreational facilities.
Such measures would also restore fish and other aquatic life.
from its menace to health, polluted water considerably reduces the water
resources of a nation. Since the total amount of a country's utilisable water
remains essentially the same and the demand for water is always increasing,
schemes for the prevention of water pollution should, wherever possible, make
the best use of treated waste waters either in industry or agriculture.
often such processes may also result in other benefits in addition to mere
reuse. The application of effluents on agricultural land supplies not only much
needed water to growing crops but also manurial ingredients; the recovery of
commercially valuable ingredients during the treatment of industrial waste
waters often yields by-products which may to some extent offset the cost of
treatment If appropriate financial credits could be calculated in respect of
these and other incidental benefits, it would be apparent that measures for the
prevention of pollution are not unduly costly and are within the reach of all
nations, advanced or developing. It is fortunate that people are be coming more
receptive to the idea of sharing the financial burden for lessening pollution.
It is now recognised in most 551 countries that it is the responsibility of
industries to treat their trade wastes in such a way that they do not
deteriorate the quality of the receiving waters, which otherwise would make the
utilisation of such polluted waters very difficult or costly for downstream
OF THE PROBLEM
crucial question is not whether developing countries can afford such measures
for the control of water pollution but it is whether they can afford to neglect
them. The importance of the latter is emphasised by the fact that in the
absence of adequate measures for the prevention or control of water pollution,
a nation would eventually be confronted with far more onerous burdens to secure
wholesome and adequate supplies of water for different purposes. If developing
countries embark on suitable pollution prevention policies during the initial
stages of their industrialisation, they can avoid the costly mistakes committed
in the past by many developed countries. It is, however, unfortunate that the
importance of controlling pollution is generally not realised until
considerable damage has already been done; (Pages 3 and 4)" In common law
the Municipal Corporation can be restrained by an injunction in an action
brought by a reparian owner who has suffered on account of the pollution of the
water in a river caused by the Corporation by discharging into the river
insufficiently treated sewage from discharging such sewage into the river. In
Pride of Derby and Derbyshire Angling Association v. British Celanese Ltd.,
[19531 Chancery 149 the second defendant, the Derby Corporation admitted that
it had polluted the plaintiff's fishery in the River Derwent by discharging
into it insufficiently treated sewage, but claimed that by the Derby
Corporation Act, 1901 it was under a duty to provide a sewerage system, and
that the system which had accordingly been provided had become inadequate
solely from the increase in the population of Derby. The Court of Appeal held
that it was not inevitable that the work constructed under the Act of 1901 should
cause a nuisance, and that in any case the Act on its true construction did not
authorise the commission of a nuisance. The petitioner in the case before us is
no doubt not a riparian owner. He is a person interested in protecting the
lives of the people who make use of the water flowing in the river Ganga and his right to maintain the petition cannot be dis-
552 puted. The nuisance caused by the pollution of the river Ganga is a public nuisance, which is wide spread in range
and indiscriminate in its effect and it would not be reasonable to expect any
particular person lo take proceedings to stop it as distinct from the community
at large. The petition has been entertained as a Public Interest Litigation. On
the facts and in the circumstances of the case we are of the view that the
Petitioner is entitled to move this Court in order to enforce the statutory
provisions which impose duties on the municipal authorities and the Boards
constituted under the Water Act.
have already set out the relevant provisions of the statute which impose those
duties on the authorities concerned. On account of their failure to obey the
statutory duties for several years the water in the river Ganga at Kanpur has
become so much polluted that it can no longer be used by the people either for
drinking or for bathing. The Nagar Mahapalika of Kanpur has to bear the major responsibility for the pollution of
the river near Kanpur city.
no doubt true that the construction of certain works has been undertaken under
the Ganga Action Plan at Kanpur in order to improve the sewerage
system and to prevent pollution of the water in the river Ganga. But as we see from the affidavit filed on behalf of
the authorities concerned in this case the works are going on at a snail's
pace. We find from the affidavits filed on behalf of the Kanpur Nagar Mahapalika
that certain target dates have been fixed for the completion of the works
already undertaken. We expect the authorities concerned to complete those works
within the target dates mentioned in the counter-affidavit and not to delay the
completion of the works beyond those dates. It is, however, noticed that the Kanpur
Nagar Mahapalika has not yet submitted its proposals for sewage treatment works
to the State Board constituted under the Water Act. The Kanpur Nagar Mahapalika
should submit its proposals to the State Board within six months from today.
seen that there is a large number of dairies in Kanpur in which there are about 80,000 cattle. The Kanpur Nagar Mahapalika
should take action under the provisions of the Adhiniyam or the relevant
bye-laws made thereunder to prevent the pollution of the water in the river Ganga on account of the waste accumulated at the dairies.
The Kanpur Nagar Mahapalika may either direct the dairies to be shifted to a
place outside the city so that the waste accumulated at the dairies does not
ultimately reach the river Ganga or in the alternative it may arrange for the
removal of such waste by employing motor vehicles to transport such waste from
the existing dairies in which even 553 the owners of the dairies cannot claim
any compensation. The Kanpur Nagar Mahapalika should immediately take action to
prevent the collection of manure at private manure pits inside the city.
Nagar Mahapalika should take immediate steps to increase the size of the sewers
in the labour colonies so that the sewage may be carried smoothly through the
sewerage system. Wherever sewerage line is not yet constructed steps should be
taken to lay it.
action should also be taken by the Kanpur Nagar Mahapalika to construct
sufficient number of public latrines and urinals for the use of the poor people
in order to prevent defecation by them on open land. The proposal to levy any
charge for making use of such latrines and urinals shall be dropped as that
would be a reason for the poor people not using the public latrines and
urinals. The cost of maintenance of cleanliness of those latrines and urinals
has to be borne by the Kanpur Nagar Mahapalika.
submitted before us that whenever the Board constituted under the Water Act
initiates any proceedings to prosecute industrialists or other persons who
pollute the water in the river Ganga, the persons accused of the offences
immediately institute petitions under section 482 of the Code of Criminal
Procedure 1973 in the High Court and obtain stay orders thus frustrating the
attempt of the Board to enforce the provisions of the Water Act. They have not
placed before us the facts of any particular case. We are, however, of the view
that since the problem of pollution of the water in the river Ganga has become
very acute the High Courts should not ordinarily grant orders of stay of
criminal proceedings in such cases and even if such an order of stay is made in
any extra-ordinary case the High Courts should dispose of the case within a
short period, say about two months, from the date of the institution of such
request the High Courts to take up for hearing all the cases where such orders
have been issued under sections 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973
staying prosecutions under the Water Act within two months. The counsel for the
Board constituted under the Water Act shall furnish a list of such cases to the
Registrar of the concerned High Court for appropriate action being taken
other aspect to which our attention has been drawn is the practice of throwing
corpses and semi-burnt corpses into the river Ganga. This practice should be immediately brought to an end. The
co-operation of the people and police should be sought in enforcing 554 this
restriction. Steps shall be taken by the Kanpur Nagar Mahapalika and the Police
authorities to ensure that dead bodies or half burnt bodies are not thrown into
the river Ganga.
applications for licences to establish new industries are made in future, such
applications shall be refused unless adequate provision has been made for the
treatment of trade effuents flowing out of the factories.
action should be taken against the existing industries if they are found
responsible tor pollution of water.
regard to the grave consequences of the pollution of water and air and the need
for protecting and improving the natural environment which is considered to be
one of the fundamental duties under the Constitution [vide Clause (g) of
Article 51A of the Constitution] we are of the view that it is the duty of the
Central Government to direct all the educational institutions throughout India
to teach atleast for one hour in a week lessons relating to the protection and
the improvement of the natural environment including forests, lakes, L) livers
and wild life in the first ten classes. The Central Government shall get text
books written for the said purpose and distribute them to the educational
institutions free of cost. Children should be taught about the need for
maintaining cleanliness commencing with the cleanliness of the house both
inside and outside, and of the streets in which they live. Clean surroundings
lead to healthy body and healthy mind. Training of teachers who teach this
subject by the introduction of short term courses for such training shall also
be considered. This should be done throughout India.
order to rouse amongst the people the consciousness of cleanliness of environment
the Government of India and the Governments 1. Of the States and of the Union Territories may consider the desirability of organising 'Keep the city
clean' week (Nagar Nirrnalikarana Saptaha), 'Keep the town clean week (Pura Nirmalikarana
saptaha) and 'Keep the village clean week (Grama Nirmalikarna Saptaha) in every
city, town and village throughout India at least once a year. During that week the entire city, town or village
should be kept as far as possible clean, tidy and free from pollution of land,
water and air. The organisation of the week should be entrusted to the Nagar Mahapalikas,
Municipal Corporations, Town Municipalities, Village Panchayats or such other local authorities having
jurisdiction over the area in question. If the-authorities decide to organise
such a week it may not be celebrated in the same week throughout India but may
he staggered depending upon the convenience of the particular city, town 555 or
village. During that week all the citizens including the members of the executive,
members of Parliament and the State Legislatures, members of the judiciary may
be requested to co-operate with the local authorities and to take part in the
celebrations by rendering free personal service. This would surely create a
national awareness of the problems faced by the people by the appalling
all-round deterioration of the environment which we are witnessing today. We
request the Ministry of Environment of the Government of India to give a
serious consideration to the above suggestion.
we have stated above applies mutatis mutandis to all other Mahapalikas and
Municipalities which have jurisdiction over the areas through which the river Ganga flows. Copies of this judgment shall be sent to all
such Nagar Mahapalikas and Municipalities. The case against the Nagar Mahapalikas
and Municipalities in the state of Uttar Pradesh shall stand adjourned by six
months. Within that time all the Nagar Mahapalikas and Municipalities in the
State of Uttar Pradesh through whose areas the river Ganga flows shall file affidavits in this Court explaining
the various steps they have taken for the prevention of pollution of the water
in the river Ganga in the light of the above judgment.
The case as against the several industries in the State of Uttar Pradesh which
are located on the banks of the river Ganga will he taken up for hearing on the
9th of February, 1988.
S . L.
Petition disposed of.