GUWAHATI, June 4 - Drawing, quiz and essay contests, and plantation drive � the State government�s green agenda seems to have been confined to these activities alone. And given the state of affairs, Assam has little reasons to celebrate the World Environment Day tomorrow.
With the National Green Tribunal (NGT) wielding the stick, State officials are now scurrying to find locations in all the districts to set up solid waste processing facilities. Land has been made available by only two districts so far � Sivasagar and Kamrup Metro. A video conference with all the deputy commissioners has been called on June 7 to take up the matter.
In its latest order, the NGT said that �the steps taken for plastic waste management and biomedical waste management in the State were inadequate�.
The tribunal also noted that �it is not clear whether the local bodies have submitted their annual reports to the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) under Rule 24 and whether SPCB has submitted consolidated annual report to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).�
�From the compliance affidavit furnished by the Chief Secretary, huge gap is noticed in the steps taken and the steps required to be taken in terms of the Rules and for ensuring sustainable development. Unless such steps are taken, the unsatisfactory state of environment in the country in general and in the State in particular may not improve,� the NGT observed, issuing a slew of directions to the chief secretary with timelines.
This is the second instance this year when NGT frowned over the state of affairs in Assam where there has been blatant lack of urgency and utter failure to tackle environmental pollution.
Assam was among six states that failed to submit clean air action plans by December 31, 2018. The action plan was submitted a few days back after the NGT said it would slap a fine of Rs 1 crore if there was further delay.
What is worse, the Pollution Control Board, Assam itself is in a sorry state of affairs.
It has no permanent chairman for more than a year now. There has been no full-fledged member secretary for over five years. The 17-member board, which has a three-year term, was last constituted in 2008 and some members are learnt to have resigned on their own and have stopped attending the meetings.
For the record, Guwahati, Nagaon, Nalbari, Silchar and Sivasagar are among 94 Indian cities which have not met national air quality standards since 2011. Also, according to the Central Pollution Control Board, there are 44 river stretches which do not meet water quality standards.