Skip to main content

As Gujarat govt denies industries discharge polluted water, environmentalists write to PM

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government’s environmental watchdog, Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) has denied the strong allegation levelled by two top environmentalists, Rohit Prajapati and Krishnakant, that industrial units of Vadodara are polluting groundwater by discharging untreated wastewater. Belonging to the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS), based in Vadodara, the environmentalists took samples of groundwater early this year with the help of GPCB officials in two villages of Vadodara district and analyzed by GPCB laboratory in Gandhinagar.
The results of the samples suggested of the 21 samples taken in two villages of Vadodara district, 16 were assessed as highly contaminated – these were, in fact, found to be discharging reddish, brownish, reddish, or yellowish water, containing “dangerously very high COD (chemical oxygen demand) levels.”
In reply to the complaint they had made to GPCB, a senior GPCB official, DP Shah, who is a GPCB environmental engineer, has said that whenever an industry is found “violating” norms or environmental laws, GPCB takes “stringent action” against such industrial units, going so far as to order their closure and prohibit production activity, adding, officials have inspected the effluent channels and have found “that no wastewater is being flowing through leakages.”
Calling the GPCB official’s reply “perfunctory, non-serious, and casual”, the environmentalists have shot a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, saying, the reply runs counter to the Supreme Court order, dated February 22, 2017 and the National Green Tribunal orders dated August 3, 2018 and February 19, 2019 in the matter in the pleas filed by PSS. They have forwarded copies of the letter to senior environment officials of Government of India and Gujarat government.
Wondering whether the GPCB reply is a “roadblock”, the environmentalists say in their fresh letter, the effluent discharging authority, Vadodara Enviro Channel Limited (VECL) officials have “already admitted before GPCB as well as the farmers and villagers that joints have not been properly fitted, as a result of which, pipes are leaking.”
They add, “Any delay in stopping these chemical effluent leaks along the rich agricultural lands can have long lasting consequences. It is highly unlikely, but if it is GPCB engineers who have come to the conclusions, this badly laid pipe-work has multiple leaking joints from day one. Unfortunately, these are quickly covered up with sandy loam soil, without any stopping of the leaks.”
The letter demands declaration of “chemical emergency” in order to “reduce further harm to the people and the environment”, insisting, on the need to file “a criminal case against all the industries” even as demanding “exemplary action against their main personnel for contamination of groundwater till they prove that they are not responsible for contamination of groundwater.”
Insisting that the case “should be heard in a special court on a day to day basis, the letter wants that “criminal” should be filed against Gujarat government officials directly or indirectly responsible “for their failure in performing their duties astutely and timely manner, in spite of repeated complaints, in preventing the contamination of groundwater at irreversible level.”
Seeking to immediately cancel Consent to Operate (CTO) and Environment Clearance (EC) granted to “all the defaulting polluting industries located in the industrial units responsible for polluting groundwater, especially in Central Gujarat, the letter also seeks the need to “monitor, using latest flow meters and other required and reliable instruments, the use and misuse of groundwater by industries from their premises.”
At the same time, the letter demands “ad-hoc exemplary monetary compensation” along with medical services to the farmers and villagers who have suffered from the groundwater pollution” on the basis of the “polluter pays principle” at the rate of Rs 2 lakh per well/bore well whose waters are contaminated over the last 3 years, Rs 5 lakhs per well/borewell whose waters are contaminated over the last 3-5 years, and Rs 10 lakh per well/borewell whose waters are contaminated for over more than 5 years.”
Also seeking “lump sum ad-hoc compensation of Rs 15,000 per month per well/borewell until decontamination of the groundwater is achieved”, the letter also demands compensation against the impact of groundwater contamination on animal husbandry activities and damage to agricultural land. It seeks appointment of a “competent expert committee, including key people from the local villages and voluntary organisations, to assess the ongoing and past damages to quantify the real compensation payable to the farmers for the damage done.”

Comments

TRENDING

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 lead petitioner was rendered homeless when GM mustard matter came up in SC

By Rosamma Thomas*  On January 5, 2023, the Supreme Court stayed a December 20, 2022 direction of the Uttarakhand High Court to the Indian Railways and the district administration of Haldwani to use paramilitary forces to evict thousands of poor families occupying land that belonged to the railways.  Justice AS Oka remarked that it was not right to order the bringing in of paramilitary forces. The SC held that even those who had no rights, but were living there for years, needed to be rehabilitated. On December 21, 2022, just as she was getting ready to celebrate Christmas, researcher Aruna Rodrigues was abruptly evicted from her home in Mhow Cantonment, Madhya Pradesh – no eviction notice was served, and nearly 30 Indian Army soldiers bearing arms were part of the eviction process. What is noteworthy in this case is that the records establishing possession of the house date back to 1892 – the title deed with the name of Dr VP Cardoza, Rodrigues’ great grandfather, is dated November 14

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Tax buoyancy claims when less than 4% Indian dollar millionaires pay income tax

By Prasanna Mohanty  In FY18, the last year for which disaggregated income tax data is available, only 29,002 ITRs declared income above Rs 5 crore, while Credit Suisse said India had 7.25 lakh dollar millionaires (the wealth equivalent of Rs 8 crore and above) that year. Often enough, the Centre claims that demonetization in 2016 raised tax collections, improved tax efficiency, and expanded the tax base. Now RBI Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) member Ashima Goyal has also joined their ranks, attributing the “claims” of rising tax collections in the current fiscal year to “tax buoyancy” brought by the demonetisation . Do such claims have any basis in official records? The answer is unequivocal. The budget documents show the tax-to-GDP ratio (direct plus indirect tax) increased from 10.6% in FY16 (pre-demonetization) to 11.2% in FY17, remained there in FY18 (demonetization and GST fiscals), and then fell to 9.9% in FY20. In FY22, it improved to 10.8% and is estimated to drop to 10.7% in

Gandhian unease at Mahadev Desai book launch: Sabarmati Ashram may lose free space

By Rajiv Shah  A simmering apprehension has gripped the Gandhians who continue to be trustees of the Sabarmati Ashram: the “limited freedom” to express one’s views under the Modi dispensation still available at the place which Mahatma Gandhi made his home from 1917 to 1930 may soon be taken away. Also known as Harijan Ashram, a meeting held for introducing yet-to-be-released book, “Mahadev Desai: Mahatma Gandhi's Frontline Reporter”, saw speaker and after speaker point towards “narrowing space” in Gujarat for Gandhians (as also others) to express themselves. Penned by veteran journalist Nachiketa Desai, grandson of Mahadev Desai, while the book was planned to be released on January 1 and the meeting saw several prominent personalities, including actor-director Nandita Das, her scholar-mother Varsha Das, British House of Lords member Bhikhu Parekh, among others, speak glowingly about the effort put in for bringing out the book, exchanges between speakers suggested it should be rele

Why no information with Assam state agency about female rhino poaching for a year?

By Nava Thakuria   According to official claims, incidents of poaching related to rhinoceros in various forest reserves of Assam in northeast India have decreased drastically. Brutal laws against the poachers, strengthening of ground staff inside the protected forest areas and increasing public awareness in the fringe localities of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries across the State are the reasons cited for positively impacting the mission to save the one-horned rhinos. Officials records suggest, only two rhinos were poached in Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve since 1 January 2021 till date. The last incident took place probably in the last week of December 2021, as a decomposed carcass of a fully-grown (around 30 years old) female rhino was recovered inside the world-famous forest reserve next month. As the precious horn was missing, for which the gigantic animal was apparently hunted down, it could not be a natural death. Ironically, however, it was not confirmed when

Civil rights leaders allege corporate loot of resources, suppression of democratic rights

By Our Representative  Civil rights activists have alleged, quoting top intelligence officers as also multiple international forensic reports, that recent developments with regard to the Bhima Koregaon and the Citizenship Amendment Act-National Register of Citizens (CAA-NRC) cases suggest, there was "no connection between the Elgaar Parishad event and the Bhima Koregaon violence." Activists of the Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) told a media event at the HKS Surjeet Bhawan, New Delhi, that, despite this, several political prisoners continue to be behind bars on being accused under the anti-terror the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Addressed by family members of the political prisoners, academics, as well as social activists, it was highlighted how cases were sought to be fabricated against progressive individuals, democratic activists and intellectuals, who spoke out against "corporate loot of Indian resources, suppression of basic democratic

Kerala natural rubber producers 'squeezed', attend to their plight: Govt of India told

By Rosamma Thomas   Babu Joseph, general secretary of the National Federation of Rubber Producers Societies (NFRPS) at a recent discussion at Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, explained that it is high time the Union government paid greater heed to the troubles plaguing the rubber production sector in India – rubber is a strategic product, important for the military establishment and for industry, since natural rubber is still used in the manufacture of tyres for large vehicles and aeroplanes. Synthetic rubber is now quite widespread, but styrene, which is used in making synthetic rubber and plastics, and also butadiene, another major constituent of synthetic rubber, are both hazardous. Prolonged exposure to these even in recycled rubber can cause neurological damage. Kerala produces the bulk of India’s natural rubber. In 2019-20, Kerala’s share in the national production of rubber was over 74%. Over 20% of the gross cropped area in the state is under rubber cultivation, with total

Bangladesh 'rights violations': US softens stance, fears increased clout of China, India

By Tilottama Rani Charulata*  In December 2021, in addition to the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), the United States imposed sanctions on seven former and current officers of the force, alleging serious human rights violations. Benazir Ahmed and former RAB-7 commander Miftah Uddin Ahmed were banned from entering the US. RAB as an institution was also canceled the support it was getting from the US and its allies. At the same time, those under the ban have been notified of confiscation of assets held abroad. The anti-crime and anti-terrorism unit of the Bangladesh Police, RAB is the elite force consisting of members of the Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh Police, Bangladesh Navy, Bangladesh Air Force, Border Guard Bangladesh, Bangladesh Civil Service and Bangladesh Ansar, and has been criticized by rights groups for its use of extrajudicial killings and is accused of forced disappearances. The government of Bangladesh has been insisting about lifting the ban on RAB, but the US had till recen