Friday, February 02, 2018

Gujarat govt "allowing" untreated effluents to be discharged into sea, "refuses" to penalize defaulting industries

By Our Representative Latest figures, released by well-known Vadodara-based environmentalist Rohit Prajapati, have revealed that the Gujarat government has been allowing the release of industrial wastewater into the Gulf of Khambhat off its industrial estates in Vadodara and South Gujarat without ensuring that the effluent treatment plants maintain the norm required for the release.
The figures show that the industrial estates at Ankleshwar, Jhagadia and Panoli have not been treating effluents the Final Effluent Treatment Plant (FETP), the Narmada Clean Tech (NCT), which happens to be a a subsidiary of the state-owned Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC).
"The result is, the FETP is unable to fully treat the effluents as required by state and Central agencies, disposing of polluted wastewater into the sea without conforming to marine standards", a top government insider, directly monitoring environmental norms, told Counterview.
The figures show, last month, average Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) was 2532 mg/litre at the inlet, as against the norm of 1000 mg/litre. At the outlet, following treatment for release into the sea, as against the norm of 500 mg/litre, average COD was 992 mg/litre. In fact, monthly averages show that, ever since January 2017, the standard was never maintained.
In environmental chemistry, COD is an indicative measure of the amount of oxygen that can be consumed by reactions in a measured solution. It is commonly expressed in mass of oxygen consumed over volume of solution. A COD test can be used to easily quantify the amount of organics in water.
Based on the figures, Prajapati, in a letter to the Union environment minister, as also Central and state ministers and agencies looking after environmental norms, has accused the officialdom of "openly allowing the NCT to consistently and admittedly violate the environment laws".
Rohit Prajapati
He wonders, how the Government of India could lift the moratorium on further industrial expansion in Ankleshwar and Panoli, which are yet to meet the "prescribed Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) norms." The moratorium was lifted in November 2016.
Pointing out that FETP and "defaulting industries", by failing to maintain the norm, are violating the Supreme Court Order dated February 22, 2017, which was based on a Public Interest Litigation filed by the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti ((PSS), which he heads, Prajapati seeks cancellation of authorization and environmental clearance granted to them.
The polluted wastewater is conveyed into the sea through the 52.76 km pipeline, inaugurated by Narendra Modi as Gujarat chief minister in January 25, 2007. Built with tax payers' money, out of the total project cost of Rs 131.43 crore, the industries paid Rs 21.75 crore (about 17%).
According to Prapapati, the 52.97 km pipeline has been broken many times, leading to illegal discharge into Amla Khadi, which the Narmada river near the sea. Often, the polluted water finds its way into the farmlands in various villages. Farmers have repeatedly complained about this, but they have been "deliberately ignored", he adds.
Meanwhile, the Nation Green Tribunal, Delhi, has taken up the hearing of a PSS plea for implementing the Supreme Court order, which says Prajapati, required that all State Pollution Control Boards to issue notices to industrial units to make their effluent treatment plants fully operational within three months from the date of order, i.e. by May 22, 2017.
On the expiry of the notice period, the concerned State Pollution Control Boards were mandated to carry out inspections, to verify the quality of effluent released by them, and the defaulting units had to be restrained from any further industrial activity. The NGT is to hear the plea on March 15.

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