The petitioner filed a PIL for the protection of the Lonar Lake in Maharashtra. In this case, the Bombay High Court blamed the municipal authorities for the debased condition of the Lonar Lake.
In June, the 113-acre Lonar Lake turned pink due to unknown reasons. The Court took cognizance of the matter. Further, the Court directed four senior lawyers to conduct an inspection. The in-situ inspection report revealed that there had been an increase in the level of acidity in the lake. This has led to the deterioration of the lake.
The petitioner’s submission includes the reason for the debased condition of the lake. It stated that open defecation and discharge of sewage water into the lake was the main reason. The petitioner raised allegations against the inaction of the Court-appointed committee. The committee also failed to put in place several Court orders. NEERI reported that it had submitted a revised proposal for the ‘Sewage Treatment Plan’ to the authorities.
The respondent submitted that steps were taken to regulate the practice of open defecation. Moreover, to create awareness, the municipal authorities referred to the location as “Good morning spot”. In response to NEERI, the respondent stated that necessary action has been undertaken already. But, the details for the same weren’t placed on record.
The Court observed that the situation of the Lonar Lake was pathetic. The Court blamed this on the “callous indifference” exhibited by the municipal authorities. Further, it found that only the Forest Department complied with Court orders. This had led to the alienation of the said department by the other authorities.
The Court had issued several directions to the Collector and other authorities on 15.06.2020. Some of these directions correlate themselves to the shifting of the Lonar-Kinhi road as it passes through an eco-sensitive zone. But, the Court noticed that these directions are not followed.
The Court stated that the protection of the Lonar Lake is the fundamental duty of the state and citizens. This has been provided for under Article 51A of the Indian Constitution. The Court observed that the Municipal Authorities have prima facie violated their duty.
The Court accepted that the harm caused to the lake was due to the free-flow of sewage water. Thus, the Court directed the municipal authorities to divert the sewage water to a safer spot. The Court asked the Collector, Buldhana, to elaborate on the concept of “Good morning spot”. The High Court also directed all the officials to be present in the next hearing with the necessary reports.
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