Water pollution: Par panel to summon officials

New Delhi: Terming water pollution as a "national crisis", a Parliamentary committee has decided to summon officials of at least six central ministries to seek their views to find ways to check the problem.

"Since the subject of water is not restricted to only one ministry, we have decided to summon officials of Ministries of Water Resources, Agriculture, Urban Development, Panchayati Raj, Rural Development and Sanitation and Drinking Water to find a multi-agency approach to deal with the situation," a member of Parliament`s Public Accounts Committee said here.

The decision to seek inputs of various ministries was taken following the deposition of top Environment Ministry officials before the PAC recently on the issue of `water pollution in India` based on a recent CAG report.

The first-ever water pollution audit in India carried out by the Comptroller and Auditor General had found several legislative, administrative and institutional lacunae in the way that the issue of water pollution is dealt with by state and Central governments.

The audit said despite 26 years of implementation of programmes to control pollution, water in major rivers is critically polluted.

The situation was particularly alarming in 14 major and 55 minor and several hundred water bodies as only 10 per cent of waste water generated from millions of litres of sewage, industrial and agricultural waste is treated before being discharged into water bodies.

Environment Secretary T Chatterjee had told the committee that the Ministry was working on a proposal to steeply hike the penalty which could be several times higher than the Rs 10,000 prescribed in the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.

"…the Rs 10,000 penalty is not adequate and there is a need to review the amount of fine to be imposed," the Environment Ministry had told the committee in a written submission before its officials deposed.