The National Green Tribunal on Wednesday criticised the Uttar Pradesh government for not taking adequate steps to prevent the deaths of more than 500 children in Gorakhpur in 2014 that were allegedly caused by pollution of the river Rapti, PTI reported.

The tribunal was hearing a petition by Gorakhpur resident Meera Shukla, who has accused the state government of dumping untreated sewage into the river.

The tribunal accused the state government of failing to protect the environment and set up a monitoring panel to address the problem. “They [departments concerned] have to come together and take immediate steps to prevent any further damage and also to reverse the damage already done.”

A bench headed by National Green Tribunal Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said the “crisis situation of failure of law” had forced the tribunal to ensure that a credible mechanism oversees the matter on a priority basis.

The monitoring committee would comprise former judge Devi Prashad Singh, a senior representative of the Central Pollution Control Board, a senior representative of the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board, former Central Pollution Control Board secretary Dr AB Akolkar, and a representative from Uttar Pradesh Jal Nigam.

“In spite of direction in the last four years very little and insignificant steps have been taken and the result is that the pollution still continues,” the green court said. Those responsible for the situation need to be held accountable and the victims have to be rehabilitated, it added.

The tribunal said the committee would conduct inspections, collect samples and analyse them. “The Central Pollution Control Board will be the convener of technical and scientific team, which shall submit its report to the chairman of monitoring committee,” it added.

The tribunal ordered the state’s chief secretary to provide logistic support to the panel and determine the remuneration of its members. The state pollution control board told the tribunal that tenders for a municipal solid waste management plant have been pending with the state government for the last four months.

The tribunal scheduled the next hearing on January 10.