India’s Green Tribunal takes on major environmental abuses

Jajmau, Kanpur.  PHOTO: Mark Chernaik

India’s unique environmental court — the National Green Tribunal — continues to make waves taking on egregious environmental abuses, including tanneries in Kanpur that have dumped untreated waste into the Ganges for decades.

ELAW partner Ritwick Dutta says in a recent report in The Washington Post:

“The green tribunal is now the epicenter of the environmental movement in India…  It has become the first and the last recourse for people because their local governments are not doing the job of protecting the environment.” In 1998, ELAW Staff Scientist Mark Chernaik traveled to Jajmau, Kanpur, to see the pollution first hand.

“The experience was life altering,” says Mark.  “Tannery effluent was flowing untreated through drains into the Ganga.  I’ll never forget the young boy I saw swimming in it.”

Years later, heart rending photos in National Geographic of tannery workers and children playing in factory waste revealed not much had changed.  ELAW is pleased that its partners in India have not given up on Kanpur.

Earlier this year, the NGT ordered a team to inspect the cluster of tanneries at Jajmau.  They filed their report with the Central Pollution Control Board.

The NGT will soon decide what measures are necessary to remedy pollution from the cluster of more than 400 tanneries in Kanpur which remain the biggest barriers to achieving the goal of a healthy Ganges River.

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Maggie Keenan
Communications Director
Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide