The Himachal Pradesh High Court, on Friday, issued a notice to the state government over releasing of inadequate water from the Pandoh and Barot dams into the Beas and Uhal rivers. The water released into the rivers falls too short to meet the target prescribed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT).
The notice issued to the Chief Secretary, Principal Secretary, Environment, Science and Technology), Chairman, HP State Pollution Board and Deputy Commissioner, Mandi has asked them to file a reply by May 31.
A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Mohammad Rafiq and Justice Sandeep Sharma passed issued the notice taking a suo moto cognizance of a public interest litigation (PIL) on a letter addressed to the Chief Justice by one, Narender Saini, chairman, Dev Bhumi Environment Savior Forum, Mandi.
The petitioner had stated that as per the order dated August 9, 2017 of the NGT, it is mandatory to release 15 to 20 per cent water from dams. However, since March 27, 2022 onwards, only nominal water is being released from Pandoh and Barot dams into the Beas and Uhal rivers.
The petitioner brought to the notice of the court that after several representations made to the concerned department and a complaint registered on the Chief Minister’s helpline number, the problem persists.
The petitioner said the issue was also brought to the notice of the Regional Pollution Control Board Bilaspur. The officials of the board even conducted inspection of Pandoh and Barot dams during which the water was released for a while. But as soon as the inspection party left, the flow of the water slowed down.
It has been alleged that the dam authority is misleading the state government by claiming that they are releasing water as per the norms. It has also been stated by the petitioner that the Pollution Control Board has issued several show cause notices to the dam authorities in the past. The petitioner said this lackadaisical attitude of the dam authority can result in spread of waterborne diseases. Besides scarcity of drinking and irrigation water, the inadequate water supply poses a grave threat to the environment and aquatic culture.
The petitioner works for protection of the environment and seeks intervention of the high court in the matter.