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Moratorium on India's "most polluted" industrial cluster, Gujarat's Vapi, lifted; "reassessment" ordered

Javadekar
By Our Representative
In a major decision, which has raised the eye-brow of senior environmentalists, the Government of India has decided to lift the moratorium on industrial investment in Vapi in South Gujarat, which was found to be “most polluted” in September 2013 by the previous UPA government. Along with Vapi, an office memorandum of the Union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF)  has decided to lift the moratorium on seven other industrial clusters -- Ghaziabad (UP), Indore (Madhya Pradesh), Jharsuguda (Odisha), Ludhiana (Punjab), Panipat (Haryana), Patancheru-Bollaram (Andhra Pradesh) and Singraulli (Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh).
The office memorandum, put on the MoEF’s website on July 24, but strangely dated June 10, has asked the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to reassess the Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index (CEPI), on the basis of which the UPA had imposed its moratorium  last year, declaring them “critically polluted areas” (CPAs). The moratorium was imposed on these CPAs after the CPCB carried out a study of CEPI of 43 industrial clusters in the country, including these eight. Declaring lifting of the moratorium, the MoEF, in its office memorandum, says, it has “decided to keep in abeyance” the moratorium “until further orders.”
The office memorandum says, “All projects requiring environmental clearance (EC) in these areas will be considered only by MoEF”, adding, “The CPCB is directed to get the reassessment of CEPI score in all 43 CPAs, including these 8 CPAs, within a period of one year and report the outcome to the Ministry. It further adds, “The CPCB should properly demarcate each of these 43 CPAs by physical verification and clearly state the latitude, longitude, name of cities and villages and survey numbers (in case of part city and / or village) of these areas.”
Senior environmentalist Rohit Prajapati of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS), Vadodara has called the decision “inexplicable and un-defendable”, saying Union environment and forests minister Prakash Javadekar should take the blame. Prajapati particularly objects to the way the decision was taken. He says, “Javadekar’s ministry took the decision on June 10, 2014, but announced it publicly on July 24 for reasons best known to him”, adding, this is the direct result of Javadekar’s effort to “fulfill” Prime Minister Narendra Modi's “commitment to industrialists during poll campaign in return for their support to BJP during the elections.”
Prajapati, in a statement, says, “There has been consistent lobbying by the industrialists on the newly-elected Modi government, and specifically on the Government of Gujarat, to start the lifting of the moratorium from CPA clusters step by step. Ganpatbhai Vasava, Minister of Forest and Environment, Gujarat, on July 5, 2014, even prematurely announced this at a public function organized by the industries of Vapi Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC).  Vasava made a similarly announcement for Ankleshwar and Vatva of Gujarat also.”
Interestingly, speaking before the media in Ahmedabad on July 13, 2014, Javadekar said in a reply to a question on the issue of moratorium of Vapi, Ankleshwar and Vatva, that he “met the state government officials and has got a lot of material from them on the subject”, adding, in two weeks’ time a decision would be taken by the MoEF on the issue. Javadekar, however, kept studied silence about what “decision” he was going to take.  
Prajapati says, “The industrial areas with a CEPI of 70 and above are considered ‘critically polluted’ areas while those with a CEPI between 60-70 are considered ‘severely polluted’ areas. In December 2009 the CEPI of 88 polluted industrial estates was measured; it was then that the CPCB and the MoEF were forced to declare 43 of those as ‘critically polluted areas’ and another 32 industrial areas as ‘severely polluted’ areas. Following this study the MoEF on January 13, 2010 was forced to issue a moratorium on opening new industries and/or increasing the production capacity of the existing industries on the 43 critically polluted areas.”
Pointing out that in 2009, “the Ankleswar’s industrial area, with 88.50 CEPI, topped the list of ‘critically polluted areas’ of India”, Prajapati says, “In 2011 and 2013, Vapi industrial area, with CEPI of 85.31, topped this list. Thus, Gujarat topped in 2009 in ‘critically polluted areas’ in India and continued to maintain its position in 2011 and 2013.“ He adds, he suspects, while Javadekar may have taken its decision to lift the moratorium June 10, 2014, the Gujarat government was busy in preparing the documents for justification of the decision, hence the delay in announcement.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Under Congress rule, they wanted to have control of everything. Even for small project of making 1 kg Anti HIV drugs, they wanted people to go to New Delhi.

Laws were made in a manner that there is no way you can work under law. So honest people are forced to break law and indulge in corrupt practices. This is the gist in the manner Congress wanted to rule the country.

Laws must be such that they are simple to follow and the cost of non compliance must be severe. This is the only way country can progress. Not by forcing people and officials to indulge in corruption by making laws which are not meant to be followed.
Anonymous said…
there is a huge gap between the arbitrarily fixed norms related to environment protection. most of them are simply copied form western countries. the great rush to make such indices as final benchmark for interpretation of laws make it impossible for anyone to work for any sensible solution. such benchmarks are never met with in reality but are used only for convenience of policy makers to play with them for political ends. Every law related to river water, plastic, hazardous metals used in electronic products or mobile batteries or use of pesticides etc are flouted day in and day out. regulators are not interested in solving them but use them for retaining their power current. Few so called experts seating in Delhi use same laws, rules and directives differently at chosen time. How long such command and control will go on? highly questionable data of 2009/2010 are used in name of environmental laws. we wan to spend billions in Ganga cleaning but not use it to stop sources of pollution because that is politically not possible and babus have no guts to implement them
Anonymous said…
law making has become a profession. in today's cut and paste system, all u do is appoint some degree holders, ex babu, some university professor who has some 30-40 in consequential publications on his "Name" as experts on commitee who have to prove that they are THE experts by proposing great sounding targets and ethopean standards and feel gr8 about to talk in seminars. Babus and govt take no responsibility of its absurdity by pointing fingers at "expert advise" and slam it on people. Life goes on as it is but new specialists and vulture group emerge who will guide you to get out of this network at a hefty price. Who is interested in environment ? It is the subject that gives immense power to keep tab on others
Anonymous said…
The comments are not data based.If CEPI is beyond laid norms , it is enough indication of the gross violation of the treatment and disposal processes and the local governance. Industries should address compliance rather than blaming regulatory bodies.Now attempt is made to throw all cautions to wind in the name of development emboldening polluters.Community would pay the price of the long term ill effects.Only PIL can save situation.

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