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Official inertia alleged as heavy rainwater mixed with untreated chemical effluents spread to villages

By Our Representative
Top environmental group, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, Vadodara, in a statement, has alleged that the Vadodara Enviro Channel Ltd, which is supposed to treat industrial effluents and dispose it of in the sea via a channel, has been releasing untreated chemical effluents, polluting large number of villages, including those which are situated 56 kilomtres away, right up to Jambusar taluka in Bharuch district. The environmental group has said, “This came to light soon after heavy rains lashed in Vadodara and South Gujarat this week. Things have reached such a point that, mixed with rainwater, effluents reached up to Nondhana and Sarod villages of Jambusar taluka passing through Jaspur, Luna, Ekalbara, Chokari, Tithor, Karakhadi, Dudhvala, Kahnava and Viludara villages.”
The statement added, “These effluents are being released from the Nandesari industrial estate and the Vadodara Petrochemicals Complex. This came to light when people found red and yellow colour water in the two villages of Jambusar taluka. Coloured water can be seen moving towards the pond along with rainwater in the ponds of the two villages as also in Ranmukteshwar Mahadev pond.”
The Vadodara Enviro Channel Ltd, in association with the Gujarat Pollution Control Board, are responsible for providing environmental solutions to industrial units, which do not have facilities to treat effluents released by them. The company has admitted in its website that except for big industries, the smaller units have simply no knowhow to manage environment, hence it provides environmental solutions to them as a consultant.
Criticising the company for failing to accomplish the job it is responsible to carry out, the Samiti said, “The untreated effluents are flowing down the channel for the last two days despite the fact that there is clearcut direction by the subdivisional magistrate, Bharuch, not to allow any effluents to be released like this. There are orders that steps should be taken against those responsible for releasing the untreated effluents. However, it seems that the orders have gone completely unheeded, and the effluents continue to be released.”
The environment group said, a similar situation existed for several years in the past – in 2003, 2008, 2009, 2012 and this year in July. “Similar order was even passed in 2003, but things have not changed,” it said, adding, things have reached such a point that “effluent waters are village ponds, polluting them, dangerously imperiling the health of the rural population.”
Asking Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi to immediately intervene into a disaster in the making in the rural areas of Vadodara district, instead of talking development, the environment group has demanded half-a-dozen steps which should immediately be taken to fight the existing situation. These include:
· Immediate steps to empty all the village ponds
· After clearing the ponds, steps should be taken to remove the polluted sand gathered in the pit
· Thereafter, clean Narmada waters should be diverted from the main canal towards the ponds
· A special investigation committee should be set up with officials from the Central Pollution Control Board, Gujarat Pollution Control Board, local representatives and NGOs to identify the culprits and punish them
· Responsible officials of the Vadodara Enviro Channel Ltd and Gujarat Pollution Control Board, responsible for releasing untreated effluents should pay for cleaning up the ponds
· The villagers who have suffered should be paid compensation
The environmental group threatened “serious consequences” in case the government fails to take these steps. “You should be prepared for a long drawn out struggle by the people of the region”, it adds.

Sabarmati carrying capacity questioned

In a separate statement, the environmental group’s head, Rohit Prajapati, has said the heavy rains that have lashed Ahmedabad have exposed the claims that the Sabarmati riverfront project has enough carrying capacity for flood waters. “The rains have created havoc in the city but I feel very sorry about the debate around this issue because Sabarmati River Front’s impact is completely ignored”, he has said.
“Sabarmati river’s carrying capacity because of the river front inside the Ahmedabad city is drastically reduced at least by 50% and that has slowed down the rainwater flow in to the river from various parts of the city. It is shocking and surprising that the Sabarmati River Front Project has converted the river into a channel inside Ahmedabad city. The river front has converted the Sabarmati river into a channel at a uniform width of 275 meters”, he said.
“The ecology of Sabarmati has been transformed to gratify the commercial greed for very few. Even a report by the National Institute of Hydrology (NIH), Roorkee in 2007 indicated that the river front’s calculations did not take into account any simultaneous heavy rainfall over the entire catchment area”, he said, issuing an “appeal” to the people of Ahmedabad to ask government to explain that how can there is no impact of the Sabarmati River Front Project during such a heavy rain.
“Nobody can guarantee in Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar offices that there will not be heavy rain in future. Let us have a public debate on the issue in very transparent way. I appeal media to take up this issue for scientific debate in public interest”, he said.

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