Well-known Gujarat-based environmental NGO, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS), has alleged that the recent decision to lift moratorium on investment in Ankaleshwar, a well-known industrial centre of South Gujarat, was taken without taking into account failure of the Final Effluent Treatment Plant (FETP) to properly treat industrial waste water.
Pointing out that the “illegal effluent discharge” from FETP “is allowed to be released despite failure to meet the prescribed norms of the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB)”, PSS, in a letter to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) secretary, has accused MoEFCC for “openly allowing” FETP to “violate environmental laws.”
Giving data of the latest investigation results of October and November 2016, the letter, signed by Rohit Prajapati and Krishnakant, says that the FETP operates as a subsidiary company of the Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC), a statutory corporation owned by the Gujarat government.
Pointing out that after treating industrial waste water at FETP, a 52.76 km long pipeline takes the treated into the sea, PSS says, "The FETP, from its inception till date, has never performed as per the prescribed norms set by the GPCB.”
Interestingly, FETP’s disposal pipeline project was inaugurated by the then Chief Minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi on January 25, 2007. “By inaugurating this plant, Modi sent out a message to industry and new investors that compliance with environment laws was a trivial matter in the state”, the letter says.
It underlines, “The pipeline project of FETP of Ankleshwar was built with the tax payers' money. Out of a total project cost of Rs 131.43 crore, the industries paid only Rs 21.75 crore (about 17%); the rest of the expense (Rs. 109 crores) was borne by the Central government, Gujarat government, and GIDC – all of which ultimately draw from public money.”
Underlining that “it is a familiar story: the profits are distributed privately, but the institutional costs and environmental burden are borne by general public”, the letter says, “This is the perfect example of the privatisation of profits and the socialisation of the costs, burdens and hazards.”
It adds, “The 52.97 km pipeline which carries the effluent from FETP to the sea for discharge regularly has many times been broken and that lead to illegal discharge into Amla Khadi which at the end meets the Narmada River.”
Saying that farm lands are also adversely impacted because of the discharge, the letter accuses the MoEFCC of ignoring complaints of farmers are deliberately ignored. It demands, the Government of India should “immediately cancel” the Consolidated Consent and Authorization (CC & A) given to FETP.
“The concerned authority should take exemplary action including cancellation of ‘Environment Clearance (EC) against all the defaulting polluting industries and their main owner and responsible officers of these industrial estates”, the letter insists.