Senior environmentalists of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti PSS), Vadodara, have asked the secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change(MoEFCC), Government of India, to provide information as to under which environment law the effluent treatment plants at Gujarat’s different industrial hugs – Vapi, Ankleshwar, Vadodara, and Ahmedabad – are “allowed” to discharge their allegedly polluted waters.
Posted on Wednesday, the letter, written by Rohit Prajapati and Krishnakant, cite four studies which prove effluent treatment plants, jointly operated by the Gujarat government and industrial associations of the industrial hubs, are discharging untreated effluents.
The letter states, the first one is an April 2008 study by the Department of Water Resources Development and Management, IIT, Roorkee, “Residual Life Assessment Study of Effluent Channel”, provides physical condition of the effluent channel carrying industrial effluents from Vadodara to Mahi estuary, leading to groundwater contamination.
The second one is a Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) study of February 2010, “Report on Effluent Conveyance System for Nandesari Industrial Area and Industries Located near Vadodara, Gujarat”, which, the letter says, highlights “the grim situation due to industrial pollution in the area.”
Then, in September 2011, the Institute of Seismological Research, Department of Science and Technology, Government of Gujarat, came out with a report regarding ground water pollution, exposing the extent of damage done due to industrial pollution in and around Luna village.
And the last one is the “Ground Water Pollution in Luna, Dudhawada, Piludara Area Near Vadodara, Gujarat”, July 2016.
Pointing out that these are “sufficient evidences to take immediate action”, the letter says, each of the studies “recommends immediate-, short-, and long-term remedial measures and also the adoption of the Polluter Pay Principle, laid down by the Supreme Court of India.”
Pointing to the Effluent Channel Project (ECP) of Vadodara, which passes through 24 villages’ prime agricultural land, also known as the vegetable basket of Gujarat, the letter says, “The 55.6 km long effluent channel was commissioned in the year of 1983 to carry ‘treated’ industrial effluent from industries near Vadodara to estuary of River Mahi, Gulf of Cambay.”
“It carries the effluent of Nandesari Industrial Estate and Vadodara Industrial Complex. Since 2004 the villages have experienced ground water contamination at alarming rates. The pollution began because of the seepage, leaching, leaking and overflowing of effluents”, and “illegal untreated effluent discharged by number of polluting industries which were established 1995 onwards.”
Accusing the MoEFCC of “inaction”, the letter states, “We ask you to respect environmental laws. Any action to contrary will be tantamount to committing an extra-legal act akin to an 'encounter’ of environment laws”, adding, “Nobody, not even the GPCB, nor the industrialists, have denied that the groundwater is severely contaminated and contamination is spreading in different areas.”
The letter underlines, “There are a number of farmers who had been practicing organic farming (i.e. without the use of chemical pesticides and chemical fertilizers) but because of the groundwater pollution they are not in the position to claim their agriculture produce as organic.”
“The farmers who are affected by groundwater contamination and pollution have not been compensated in terms of money”, the letter points out, demanding, the effluent treatment plants’ Consolidated Consent and Authorization should be cancelled.