NGT raps Rajasthan Chief Secretary, says he can't stop working before retirement

By PTI

NEW DELHI: The National Green Tribunal has rapped the Rajasthan Chief Secretary for not appearing through video conferencing on the pretext of retirement in a matter of discharge of untreated sewage and industrial effluents on agriculture lands in a village in Bikaner.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said retirement can be no justification for neither filing an affidavit nor appearing by video conferencing.

If a Chief Secretary is to retire, he cannot stop working before retirement.

If he has such a disability, in the interest of administration, he should make way for others who can perform.

“Accordingly, we direct the current and incoming Chief Secretaries, Rajasthan to take immediate remedial measures in the light of above observations and in compliance of directions in the order dated September 21, 2021, in coordination with concerned officers and file a report of compliance within two months by e-mail,” the bench said.

Contrary to the timeline fixed by the Supreme Court, requiring requisite treatment plants to be placed by March 31, 2018, long timelines have been proposed without any accountability for the delay, the NGT said.

Status of other cities in the state is not shown.

“In fairness, relevant data should have been given or at least a statement should have been made that no untreated sewage was being discharged.

This monitoring was directed by the Tribunal to be at the level of the chief secretary but nothing is mentioned on this aspect.

“That is why the Tribunal intended to interact with the chief secretary to find out ways and means for ensuring compliance with the law and directions of the Supreme Court particularly to cut down time taking process in this particular case and replicate to other places also,” the bench said.

The NGT said such attitude of the state authorities is not an act of good governance but of continued defiance of law and obligation to provide a clean environment to the citizens.

“Decision of chief secretary not to appear even by video conferencing, failure to file an affidavit of compliance or to take any action against the erring officials for continued violations despite the direction of this Tribunal, is thus unfortunate.

“Only explanation orally furnished by the Counsel is that he is to retire at the end of the month.

This can be no justification for neither filing an affidavit nor appearing by video conferencing,” the bench said in its January 6 order.

The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by Rajasthan resident Bhanwar Lal Bhargava over discharge of untreated sewage and industrial effluent on agricultural land in Bikaner’s Nokha village.