Monday, November 30, 2015

Govt of India "dilutes" sea pollution criterion, allows COD norms up to 500 mg/litre without any study

By Our Representative
Top environmentalist Rohit Prajapati has strongly protested against the Government of India considering to “dilute” the chemical oxygen demand (COD) norms from 250 milligram per litre (mg/l) to 500 mg/l for discharging industrial water into the sea, saying “this is not based on study.”
Prajapati said, this being done under the garb of a new criterion -- “achievable” environmental norms -- rather than the “caring capacity” of the environment, adding, it would only “deplete the environment” around our sea shores irreversibly.
Pointing out that the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) is waiting for “right-time” to make an announcement on this, Prajapati has said in a note he has circulated to the media, the approach of “dilution as the solution” to deal is “a shameless attempt to condone industrial expansion even in areas where there is evidence that the environment is already ‘critically polluted’.”
“We are in an era where the three ministries of environment, labour and industry, individually and collectively, are increasingly concerned about ‘improving environment’ from the perspective of industry and its profitability, industrial-friendly labour laws and prosperity of industry; this is aimed an accelerating production and profits of industrialists in the ‘interest of gross domestic product (GDP)’,” Prajapati said.
According to Prajapati, “When any government and its concerned authorities talk about ‘prescribed norm’ for the chemicals, we should keep in mind that it only means that the government is okay with that much pollution load, suggesting that it would have no impact environment and health of the people.”
He underlined, however, that the new “prescribed norms calculations are not based on carrying capacity of the environment and the people, but bearing capacity of the industries to keep up their profitability”, adding, the “prescribed norms of a chemical substance is an exposure level to which it is believed an environment and people can be exposed day after day for a lifetime without adverse effects.”
Stating that the prescribed norm concept is similar to the threshold limit value (TLV) concept for the working condition inside the industries, Prajapati emphasized, “When we design the ‘norms’ the fundamental question we should ask to ourselves is: Are we designing the ‘norms’ based on carrying capacity of the area. i.e. keeping in mind existing pollution load of the area?”
He further stated, there is a need to ask whether one has “considered the facts that many people staying in nearby industrial clusters are living below poverty line and are not able to take required calories in their diets and many of them are malnourished”, whether the “designed ‘norm’ for particular cluster or designing the “norms” for an area in general”, and should one design general ‘norms’ or we should design area specific ‘norms’.”
Prapapati said, “Same is the case with calculation of TLV. Today very few people have information and knowledge about the data based used for the design of ‘environment norms’ and ‘TLV’,” adding, by doing so, “We do not debate the authenticity of data base itself.”
“This is a result of the economic and political decision that decides the central and state government’s industrial policy to ensure the profitability of the industries, Prajapati commented, adding, “It is time to oppose the dilution of COD norms from 250 mg/l to 500 mg/l. Raising the norms will artificially reduce the number of the critically and severely polluted areas on paper, while more industrial clusters will join the list of critically and severally polluted areas in reality. This will only lead to further deterioration of the environment.”

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