New Delhi: Expressing concern over its functioning, the National Green Tribunal on Wednesday directed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to conduct within six months a performance audit of all the state pollution control boards and committees.

The tribunal's direction came while hearing a plea filed by Aryavart Foundation against discharge of untreated trade effluents by more than 500 industrial units in Vapi Industrial Cluster into Daman Ganga river in Valsad district in Gujarat

The green Tribunal expressed serious concern over the pollution situation in the country and said that it raises serious questions as to how, despite several environmental protection laws, 351 river stretches across the country are still highly polluted.

"The pollution control boards and committees of all the states proved to be unsuccessful in taking any kind of punitive action. Just issuing notices is not going to improve the situation.

"Pollution cannot be made a profitable business and the state boards and committees should take strict action against polluters to have some effect on the current situation of the country, " the bench said.

The bench also directed the CPCB to conduct performance audit of all the state pollution control boards and committees within six months by "constituting appropriate expert inspection teams and furnish a report to this Tribunal".

"The CPCB to do regular audits of the state pollution control boards instead of routine checkups and make it a part of its daily working," the bench said.

The panel further directed the Union Environment Ministry to constitute a three-member expert committee to consider steps to be taken to comply with the Supreme Court directions and suggestions for improvement in the effective functioning of the regulatory bodies for protection of the environment.

The matter is posted for further consideration on August 19.