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High comprehensive environmental pollution index of Ankaleshwar, Vapi pushes down Gujarat's eco-ranking

By Rajiv Shah 
In a major expose, a top consulting firm, Prestels, which is an expert in industrial safety and health, disaster management, environmental consulting and energy audit, have ranked two of Gujarat’s industrial clusters – Ankaleshwar and Vapi – as the worst polluters out of a total 88 clusters, for which it has collected data. A recent report submitted to the Planning Commission to India by Sumeet Patil, project manager, Prestels, has found that Ankaleshwar tops in comprehensive environmental pollution index (CEPI) with a score of 88.5, closely followed by Vapi’s 88.09. The next high polluter is Ghaziabad in UP with a CEPI of 87.37, followed by Chandrapur in Maharashtra with 83.88, Korba in Chhattisgarh with 83.0, Bhiwadi in Rajasthan with 82.91, Angur Talcher in Orissa with 82.09, Vellore (North Arcot) in Tamil Nadu with 81.79, and Ludhiana in Punjab with 81.66.
Worse, the report finds that Ankaleshwar and Vapi, the industrial clusters located in South Gujarat, are worst performers for three sectors for which CEPI has been taken -- air, water and land pollution.  Apart from these two clusters, the consulting firm has analysed data of seven other industrial clusters of Gujarat. Thus, Ahmedabad’s CEPI was found to be 75.28, followed by Vatva’s 74.77, Bhavnagar’s 70.99, Junagarh’s 70.82, Surat’s 66.91, Vadodara’s 66.91 and Rajkot’s 66.76. In fact, it is because of Ankaleshwar and Vapi that the average CEPI for Gujarat comes to 74.34, which is sixth highest in a group of 20 major states, next to Haryana (74.49), Rajasthan (74.66), Orissa (74.67), Kerala (75.08) and Delhi (79.54).
The report, titled “Successful Models of Implementation of Environmental Policies and Programmes in States”, states that while on the whole Gujarat has made considerable improvement on two fronts – controlling air pollution and following municipal solid waste rules – its performance remains “below average” on two other fronts, overall waste management and water pollution control. In fact, Gujarat’s environmental protection index (EPI) in waste management is found to be 0.585 on a scale of 1, with its rank being 18th out of 33 states.
The report comments, “Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu together generate 80.29 % of country’s total hazardous waste. Common Hazardous Waste Transportation and Disposal Services (TSDF) located in Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh are having surplus capacities to handle the present quantities of land disposable waste generated in these respective states, while the common TSDF located in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal do not have adequate capacities to accommodate the present quantities of land disposable hazardous waste.”
The consultant finds that while in municipal waste management in Gujarat is being handled well, with 75 per cent being treated out of a total municipal waste generation of 8,998 tonnes per day, as for other types of wastes, which is the highest in the country, the state’s performance is found to be rather poor. Thus, Gujarat generates in all 17,92,789 million tonnes of hazardous waste, out of which the state’s landfill sites and TSDFs have the “treatment efficiency” of 40.41 per cent. As for biomedial waste, Gujarat generates 25,000 kg per day, out of which the treatment capacity is 60 per cent. While the treatment efficiency score for hazardous waste is 0.40 on a scale of 1, that of biomedical waste it is 0.60.
Coming to the EPI of water, the report ranks Gujarat No 11. Out of total sewage generation of 2,376 million litres per day, the treatment capacity of the state’s plants is a pitiable 32.95 per cent. With an EPI score of 0.329 on a scale of 1, this is supposed to be quite poor compared to many others states. Basing on an analysis of the state’s 23 rivers and groundwater, Gujarat’s EPI calculation of river water suggests a score of 0.548 on a scale of 1. The states which perform better include Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. Though the report states that Gujarat is doing well in air pollution control, its EPI ranking for this has been fixed at 0.894, with eight other states performing better, including Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
The report underlines, the analysis of quality of water suggests that dissolved oxygen violations averaged seven per cent in the country, with the maximum violations being seen in Delhi (68 per cent). Other states which failed to do well include Gujarat (21 per cent violations) and Uttar Pradesh (19 per cent violations). It quotes the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to state that “Maharashtra, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Gujarat are the major contributors of wastewater (63 per cent). The facilities constructed to treat wastewater do not function properly and remain closed most of the time due to improper design and poor maintenance, together with a non-technical and unskilled approach.”
The report adds, “The states of Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Maharashtra are the top performers in water pollution control. It should be noted that Haryana has however a high degree of coliform violation in water quality monitoring. Goa is also a top performer based on EPI scores.” On the other hand, “The states of Jharkhand, Punjab, West Bengal, Gujarat, Orissa, Rajasthan, Kerala and Delhi are the bottom performers. The North-eastern states and J&K also have poor performance based on EPI scores.” It regrets, these states are failing to pursue the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, amended 1988, and the the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Rules, 1975.
The report suggests that, despite these weaknesses, Gujarat is doing well in taking steps to control pollution by providing provision of incentives for objective and honest third party audit of environmental statements, even as relying less on human involvement by “integrating ICT with logical checks / intervention by the department”. The Gujarat Control Pollution Control’s web-based software application –XGN – is used for day-to-day operations enabling legal actions like show cause notices, closure directions and revocation orders. It also facilitates online payment of consent fees and water Cess. Revenue of GPCB increased from Rs 28 crore to Rs 76 crore in the first two years of operation. “The programme is a recipient of the National e-governance Award 2010 for Re-Engineering of Processes”, it says.

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