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Authorities asked to act against officials, industries responsible for polluting Sabarmati

Counterview Desk
Top environmental NGO Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) activists Rohit Prajapati and Krishna Kant have sought immediate action against Central Effluent Treatment Plants (CETPs), Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs), polluting industries, and the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) "in view of dangerously very high COD (Chemical Oxygen Demand), BOD (Biological Oxygen Demand) and zero DO (Dissolved Oxygen) levels observed in the water of Sabarmati River."
In a letter to the Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Government of India (GoI), with copies to concerned senior GoI and Government of India (GoG) officials, and Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (CPCB) officials, they have also said that this should be done "as directed by the Supreme Court in its order, dated February 22, 2017, in Writ Petition (Civil) No. 375 of 2012".
Seeking criminal case against all polluting industries for pollution in Sabarmati River and concerned main officers of the authorities failing in their duties to prevent the river pollution even after repeated letters and complaints sent to them, they have said that the authorities have accepted, known and admitted of the violation of the Supreme Court order, National Green Tribunal, Principal Bench, Delhi, order, dated August 3, 2018 and February 19, 2019, which amounts to the contempt of the Supreme Court order.

Text of the letter:

It is now known and admitted reality that untreated and poorly treated industrial effluent and sewage of Ahmedabad city have made Sabarmati River very critically polluted. Recent joint investigations on March 12, 2019 by Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti and Gujarat Pollution Control Board, of the pollution levels in the prime water source of Ahmedabad District has again confirmed the challenging reality on ground. Copies of the reports are attached herewith this letter.
The stretch of the Sabarmati River in the Ahmedabad city stretch, before the Riverfront, is dry and within the Riverfront Project stretch, is brimming with stagnant Water. In the last 120 kilometres, before meeting the Arabian Sea, it is “dead” and comprises of just industrial effluent and sewage.
On March 12 2019, the Regional Officers Tushar Shah and Nehalben Ajmera of Gujarat Pollution Control Board, Rohit Prajapati and Krishnakant of Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, Social Activist Mudita Vidrohi of Ahmedabad, Subodh Parmar, lawyer of Gujarat High Court, conducted a joint investigation.
This was conducted in the context of implementation of the Order, dated February 22, 2017, of the Supreme Court in Writ Petition (Civil) No. 375 of 2012 (Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti & Anr V/s Union of India & Ors) about the status of industrial effluent and sewerage discharge into the Sabarmati River stretch of Ahmedabad District. The investigation reports are shocking and reveal the disastrous condition of Sabarmati River in and around Ahmedabad District and about 120 kilometres downstream.
Sabarmati River no longer has any fresh water when it enters the city of Ahmedabad. The Sabarmati Riverfront has merely become a pool of polluted stagnant water while the river, downstream of the riverfront, has been reduced to a channel carrying effluents from industries from Naroda, Odhav, Vatva, Narol, and sewerage from Ahmedabad city.
The drought like condition of the Sabarmati River intensified by the Riverfront Development has resulted in poor groundwater recharge and increased dependency on the already ailing Narmada River. The investigation raises fundamental questions against both, the polluting industries that discharge their untreated effluents into the Sabarmati River, and the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation that discharges their poorly treated, untreated sewerage into the Sabarmati River.
The Gujarat Pollution Control Board's top cadre officials have failed in their duties and responsibilities to protect the Sabarmati River’s water quality, in spite of the Supreme Court Order dated February 22, .2017, directing strict compliance of effluent treatment standards, continuous monitoring, and closure of defaulting industries and orders dated August 3, 2018 and February 19, 2019 of the National Green Tribunal, Principal Bench, Delhi, in Original Application No. 593 of 2017, (Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti & Anr V/s Union of India & Ors) for implementation of the Supreme Court order.
The alarmingly critical and dangerous levels of pollution, far exceeding permissible levels, as recorded in the investigation report, are summarised below:
  • The water in Sabarmati Riverfront has 4.66 mg/l DO, 98 mg/l COD, 28 mg/l BOD, 96 mg/l Sulphate, 153 mg/l Chloride, and 668 mg/l TDS.
  • The First Outfall of STP of Ahmedabad after Vasna Barrage (After Sabarmati Riverfront) 160 MLD has 337 mg/l COD, 139 mg/l BOD, 108 mg/l Sulphate, 186 mg/l Chloride, and 732 mg/l TDS.
  • The Second Outfall industrial effluent of Ahmedabad after Vasna Barrage – Strom Water Drain from Dani Limda (After Sabarmati Riverfront) has 1301 mg/l COD, 536 mg/l BOD, 462 mg/l Sulphate, 933 mg/l, Chloride, and 3135 mg/l TDS.
  • The Third Outfall of STP of Ahmedabad after Vasna Barrage (After Sabarmati Riverfront) 800 MLD has 587 mg/l COD, and 218 mg/l BOD.
  • The Fourth Outfall of Industrial Effluent from Naroda, Odhav, and Vatva industrial Estates (Mega Pipeline) after Vasna Barrage (After Sabarmati Riverfront) 40 MLD has 1052 mg/l COD, 210 mg/l BOD, 863 mg/l Sulphate, 4025 mg/l Chloride, and mg/l 9813 TDS.
  • The Fifth Outfall of Industrial Effluent of Narol after Vasna Barrage (After Sabarmati Riverfront) 100 MLD has 1126 mg/l COD, 427 mg/l BOD, 743 mg/l Sulphate, 1600 mg/l Chloride, and 5290 mg/l TDS
  • The Sabarmati River 100 meters after STPs and Industrial Effluent Outfall has BDL (Beyond Detection Limit) DO, 1009 mg/l COD, 447 mg/l BOD, 612 mg/l Sulphate, 1665 mg/l Chloride, and 4368 mg/l TDS.
  • Miroli Village pumping station 21 downstream of Vasna Barrage has BDL (Beyond Detection Limit) DO, 151 mg/l COD, 33 mg/l BOD, 188 mg/l Sulphate, 491 mg/l, Chloride, and 1466 mg/l TDS.
We would like to emphasise that two STPs sewage discharges, and three industrial effluent discharges which are critically polluted, critically higher than the prescribed norms are being dumped into the location downstream of Vasna Barrage, onwards which the Sabarmati River is completely dry.
Actually, we should not allow at all any discharge of even so-called treated effluent and sewerage into the river stretch where river is dry. This amounts to murdering the river and it is a criminal offence on the part of industry, concerned authorities, Government of Gujarat, and State of Gujarat.
The pathetic and dismal condition of the Sabarmati River is a cause of grave concern for the health of the people of the Ahmedabad city and the villages around Sabarmati River downstream of Riverfront who rely on the river water for their daily use and livelihood.
Some of the major direct and indirect effects of the high levels of pollution on the people and environment includes contamination of ground water, food contamination, associated health hazards, loss of natural river habitat, depletion of ground water levels due to lack of water recharge, loss of flora and fauna, etc. Urgent action is necessitated in light of these findings to rejuvenate and restore the Sabarmati River and its water quality, which calls for the strict implementation of the Supreme Court Order by the concerned authorities.
We demand that:
  • GPCB immediately issues closure notices to all the defaulting industries located in Ahmedabad industrial clusters, in implementation of the Supreme Court Order dated February 22, 2017.
  • GPCB immediately issues closer notices to all the defaulting CETPs of the Ahmedabad industrial cluster, in implementation of the Supreme Court order dated February 22, 2017.
  • GPCB immediately issues notices to the Municipal Commissioner of Ahmedabad to ensure compliance by all STPs in the area.
  • GPCB files criminal cases against the all owners/directors of the defaulting polluting industries, the officers of the CETPs, and the Municipal Commissioner of Ahmedabad. 
  • Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) should not allow at all any discharge of even so-called treated effluent and sewerage into the Sabarmati river stretch where river is dry. This amounts to murdering the river and it is a criminal offence.
  • The GPCB investigates and prepares further detailed reports about the ground water contamination as well as contamination of the food grains, vegetables, and fodder.
  • Ensures Interim Exemplary Monetary Compensation along with medical services to the farmers and villagers who have suffered from the surface water and groundwater pollution. 
  • Immediately pay Interim compensation per season per acre to the farmers who are forced to use contaminated Sabarmati River water and groundwater for irrigation of agricultural land and, hence, are facing several severe health and related socio-economic problems. 
  • Appoint a competent interdisciplinary committee of officials and field experts to assess oongoing and past damages to quantify the real compensation payable to the farmers for the damage done. 
  • Implement, in letter and spirit, the order, dated February 22, 2017, of the Supreme Court in Writ Petition (Civil) No. 375 of 2012 (Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti & Anr V/s Union of India & Ors) and National Green Tribunal, Principal Bench, Delhi Order, dated Aigust 3, 2018 and February19, 2019, in Original Application No. 593 of 2017 (Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti & Anr V/s Union of India & Ors) in letter and spirit. 
We expect your prompt and positive response in the interest of lives, livelihoods, and environment of all the concerned areas cities, towns, villages, and hamlets around the Sabarmati River.
If you do not act now, your inaction shall be considered as non-compliance of the Hon’ble Supreme Court order, dated February 22,, in our PIL – Writ Petition (Civil) 375 of 2012 and may invite further necessary actions against all above-mentioned culprits.

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