Introduction

The National Green Tribunal (hereinafter referred to as “NGT”) recently issued bailable arrest warrants against twelve (12) District Collectors of Maharashtra for non-compliance of the directives issued by the NGT last year related to bore wells.

Such directives were issued by the NGT while disposing off an Environment Interest Litigation (hereinafter referred to as “EIL”) related to high impact of fluorosis in different districts. NGT had issued seven-point directives to the district collectors of Bandara, Nanded, Latur, Beed, Washim, Parbhani, Hingoli, Jalna, Chandrapur, Jalgaon & Yavatmal Nagpur where the dependence on bore wells as a water source is very high & the fluoride levels in groundwater is high too.

Background

A Pune based trust “Sahyog Trust” had filed a petition in the year 2013 seeking to emphasize the impact of high fluoride content in groundwater on social, environment & health aspects in the above mentioned twelve (12) districts.

Collectors of all the twelve (12) Districts, Health Ministry Officials, Secretaries of various Departments and Regional Officers of the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, and (hereinafter referred to as the ‘MPCB’) Regional Offices of the said districts were made parties in the said petition.

NGT observed that all these districts have a large number of bore wells and there had been violations of the norms & rules regulating the depth of the bore wells as well as the distance between two such wells.

NGT had asked the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board to submit a consolidated ‘action taken’ report to curb the issue of fluoride level in groundwater as many people suffer from skeletal and dental fluorosis due to the ground water from such bore wells that have higher levels of fluoride, nitrates, iron, and alkaline content than what is permitted.

Present Action Taken by NGT

However, after waiting for almost two (2) years to receive action taken reports, the NGT took suo motu cognizance of non-compliance and has issued the bailable arrest warrants against all the twelve (12) district collectors.