Skip to main content

Moratorium on industrial clusters: Union ministry should clarify stance

By Rohit Prajapati*
In May 2002, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) released an extensive report saying that “there was a growing gap between the efforts to reduce the impact of business and industry on nature and the worsening state of the planet”. The Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) in its press release dated April 13, 2014 stated, “A new report by the IPCC shows that global emissions of greenhouse gases have risen to unprecedented levels despite a growing number of policies to reduce climate change. Emissions grew more quickly between 2000 and 2010 than in each of the three previous decades.”
The IPCC added, “There is a clear message from science: To avoid dangerous interference with the climate system, we need to move away from business as usual… Stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere requires emissions reductions from energy production and use, transport, buildings, industry, land use, and human settlements.”
Formal token capital investment and less and less routine investment by industries to prevent pollution mean more and more pollution. When the Union ministry for environment and forests (MoEF) is more worried about the profitability of industry, the gross domestic product (GDP), “environment for more and more investment”, and taking feedback from polluting industries, deliberately avoiding feedback from the affected people, this leads to irreversible damage to environment, agriculture, and severe health impact on the people.
When the MoEF starts behaving like the ministry of industries and takes a role of the advocate of polluting industries, irreversible damage to environment, agriculture, and severe health impact on the people is guaranteed. For the last many years, instead of concern for environment, the MoEF’s main concern is ensuring investment, profitability of industries and GDP. In spite many industrial clusters in the country facing severe surface and groundwater contamination, the MoEF has yet not taken decisive steps as remedial measures.
On July 7, 2007 and January 13, 2010, the MoEF was forced to order that no expansion and no new industries can legally function in the critically polluted areas. The present ground realities call for continuation of this strong action from the MoEF under the country’s environmental laws against all these critically polluted areas. These steps were in right direction which now the ministry itself is backtracking.
On July 5, 2014, Ganpatbhai Vasava, minister for forests and environment, Government of Gujarat, announced at a public function organized by the industries of Vapi Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC), in media presence, that the moratorium on Vapi has been lifted, and an official announcement to this effect would be made soon. Vasava similarly announced for the industrial clusters in Ankleshwar and Vatva of Gujarat.
If what Vasava stated about the lifting of moratorium on industrial clusters of Vapi, Ankleshwar, and Vatva is true, then it clearly indicates that the MoEF’s decisions are either manoeuvred by the industrial lobby and various state governments, or the MoEF has to provide the clearcut explanation in public for what it is seeking to do.
The MoEF, responsible for climate change, should not tolerate such behaviour of any officers and the minister of any state government in the interest of environment. If the MoEF does not take action against the minister of Gujarat, it will send wrong message to people in general that the MoEF’s decisions might be manoeuvred by the polluting industries and it is meaningless to send any complaints to the MoEF about pollution in the country.
One needs to only draw attention to the information dated June 6, 2014 which we received from Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the zonal office located at Vadodara, under the right to information (RTI) Act. The latest report of the CPCB dated February 21-22, 2014 indicates that common effluent treatment plants (CETPs) of Vapi, Ankleshwar and Panoli are unable to meet Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) norms. The Effluent Channel Project of Vadodara is also not able to meet the GPCB norms since long, as per the information we have received under RTI.
The above ground realities invite strong action from the GPCB, the CPCB and the MoEF under the country’s environmental laws against all these facilities, and we strongly feel that no effluent discharge should be allowed from any of these facilities with immediate effect. We heard that instead of imposing the moratorium on Vadodara, the MoEF is planning to lift the moratorium on Vatva, Ankleshwar and Vapi regions – based only on a representation from the department of environment and forests of the Government of Gujarat and the industrial lobby and not based on the performance required by the environment laws.
We strongly feel that:
(1) The moratorium on industrial clusters Vatva, Ankleshwar and Vapi of Gujarat should be continued.
(2) The time has come to apply the same principle for the Vadodara District. The GPCB should not accept new no objection certificate (NOC)/ NOC for expansion / new CCA application having additional effluent discharge with immediate effect for Vadodara district, as the Effluent Channel Project is not able to meet the GPCB norms since long. A moratorium should be imposed on the Vadodara District by applying the same principle.
One hopes that environmental laws will be respected by the MoEF and any action to contrary will be tantamount to committing an extra-legal ‘encounter’ of the environment laws.
Crucial information should be made public regarding which environment law is applied on Tadgam Sarigam Pipeline, on Vapi CETP, on FETP Ankleshwar, on ECP Vadodara, and on CETPs of Ahmedabad, and whether they are allowed to discharge their effluents into the water bodies even though effluents are not able to meet the GPCB norms.

*With Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, Vadodara

Comments

TRENDING

'Wedding of the century': What does Mukesh Ambani want to prove by such extravaganza?

By NS Venkataraman*  Mukesh  Ambani,   a renowned Indian industrialist who is said to be the richest person in India and  one of the richest persons in the world,   has just now conducted the wedding celebration of  his son in Mumbai,   with unheard level of lavishness in India.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

'Anti-poor stand': Even British wouldn't reduce Railways' sleeper and general coaches

By Anandi Pandey, Sandeep Pandey*  Probably even the British, who introduced railways in India, would not have done what the Bhartiya Janata Party government is doing. The number of Sleeper and General class coaches in various trains are surreptitiously and ominously disappearing accompanied by a simultaneous increase in Air Conditioned coaches. In the characteristic style of BJP government there was no discussion or debate on this move by the Indian Railways either in the Parliament or outside of it. 

'28% rise in sedition cases': Top global NGO alliance rates India's civil space 'repressed'

By Rajiv Shah Rating India's civic space as repressed , Civicus, a global civil society alliance, in its new report submitted to the UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) on the state of civic space in the country has said that the use of sedition law against the Modi government’s critics continues. "Under the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, sedition cases have increased by 28 per cent with over 500 cases against more than 7,000 people", it says.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

How embracing diversity enriched my life, brought profound sense of joy

By Mike Ghouse*  If you can shed the bias towards others, you'll love the connections with every human that God or his systems have created. This gives a sense of freedom and brings meaning and joy to life. Embracing and respecting how people dress, eat, and practice their beliefs becomes an enriching experience.

How US is using Tibetans to provoke conflict with China 'ignoring' India

By Lobsang Tenzin*  On July 12, US President Joe Biden signed the Resolve Tibet Act, and Tibetans cheered for it, believing that the law promotes a resolution of the dispute between Tibet and China. Is this true? First, let's look at the issue of the ownership of Tibet. 

Post-poll mob lynching spree, bulldozer justice: NAPM seeks united resistance

Counterview Desk  Condemning what it calls "the horrific spree of mob lynchings across the country after the Lok Sabha election results", India's premier civil society network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), has called for "united resistance" against "hateful communal politics, mob lynching of religious minorities and caste-based oppression".

Banned Maoist party protests in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, claims support across globe

By Harsh Thakor*  Despite being a banned and designated as terrorist organisation under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act since 2009, the Communist Party of India (Maoist) is said to have successfully implemented a one-day bandh across Kolhan division in Jharkhand on July 10th, with repurcussions in the neighbouring Chhattisgarh. The bandh was called to protest against alleged police brutality in the Kolhan-Saranda region.