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Effluent discharge into deep sea? Modi told to 'reconsider' Rs 2275 crore Gujarat project

Counterview Desk 

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, well-known Gujarat-based environmentalist, Mahesh Pandya of the Paryavaran Mitra, has protested against the manner in with the Gujarat government is continuing with its deep sea effluent disposal project despite environmental concerns.
Asking him to use his influence to ask the state government to “reconsider” the project, which is to cost Rs 2,275 crore, Pandya said, the common effluent treatment plants (CETPs) in Gujarat, whose waste is proposed is to be disposed of in the sea, have obtained “no results”.
In fact, the CETPs, using outdated technology, continue to release “partially treated effluent”, and if the project effected, it will lead to “huge short-term and long-term consequences for marine life in the area and for the 30,000 people whose livelihoods depend on the fishing industry”, he said.

Text:

Paryavaran Mitra is a Gujarat based NGO actively working on socio-environmental issues since 1997 to advocate for human rights in the face of growing environmental pollution and degradation. Today, I write to you as a citizen of this country and as an environmentalist deeply concerned by the Deep Sea Effluent Disposal Project proposed by the Gujarat government.
Having exhausted all my other options, including two letters written to the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Gujarat on 29/05/2021 and 25/06/2021, I had no choice but to write to you. After considering all the different aspects of the project and the potential damage it can cause, I strongly believe that there is a need for reconsideration with experts and the various stakeholders who will directly or indirectly be impacted by this project.
Ever since the announcement was made by our Hon’ble Chief Minister Mr. Vijay Rupani in December of 2018, my organization has repeatedly reached out to the government asking for more information on the project while also making several constructive suggestions along the way. Unfortunately, the response has not been satisfactory as the state government claimed to have no additional information regarding the project.
Despite this we persisted and finally on the 23rd of December 2020, we received a copy from the Gujarat Pollution Control Board of the order for approval of Rs. 50,000 lakh for the Department of Industry and Mines. This allowed us to better understand the project and the consequences it can have.
From what we understand the project is worth a total Rs. 2275 crore with the Govt. contributing 70% of the total cost in Ahmedabad and Vadodara and 80% percent of it in Jetpur. In his budget speech on July 2nd, 2019, the Deputy Chief Minister allocated Rs 500 crore for this project as well as Rs 700 crore in the current year (2021-22) budget.
As per the CAG report (2015), the state government has spent crores of rupees on common effluent treatment plants (CETPs) in Gujarat but no results have been obtained. The CAG report for year 2015 states that despite the state government spending Rs 174.72 crore between 2012 and 2014 on eight shared water purification plants, our water resources are polluted.
Replying to a question in the Lok Sabha on June 28, 2019, the Environment Minister said that even behind the Sabarmati, Mindola and Tapi rivers, the central government could not clean the rivers despite spending Rs 391.73 crore (National River Cleaning Project) between 2015 and 2019.
The National Green Tribunal has ordered compensation of Rs 5 crore for 19 villages along the Kim River. Similarly, the results of the Vadodara Affluent Channel project have also been a cause of concern as they have failed to reduce the pollution in the Mahi River and the coastline.
Considering all this, if the Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CETPs) continue as they are now (i.e. ignoring the criteria) and releasing partially treated effluent, there will be huge short-term and long-term consequences for marine life in the area and for the 30,000 people whose livelihoods depend on the fishing industry.
As a responsible Prime Minister, you have always been a proponent of sustainable development but this project risks the health of our oceans and is not in line with India’s commitment to a sustainable future. Instead, we would like to bring to your attention two technologies which have the potential to improve the quality of water treatment at existing CETPs and will make the need for such a pipeline redundant.
  1. Fetron Catalytic Reactor (FCR) which was recently installed at the CETP in Vatva, Gujarat. In fact, the Chairman of The Green Environment Services Co-operative Society Limited, Rameshbhai Patel said, “All the norms of effluent discharge will be followed by this CETP plant of Vatva” and our Hon’ble Chief Minister Mr. Rupani has praised this initiative by saying that “By implementing such feasible technology for waste water management, the Vatva industries have truly set an ideal example of an environment-friendly and community-driven approach. This is no less than a revolution in Gujarat’s industrial sector which will duly encourage other industrial sectors to follow such effective footsteps”.
  2. Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) which is, as the name suggests, a zero waste production system which can be incorporated into existing CETP plants. The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board has made ZLD mandatory to treat waste from highly polluting industries like Textile Dyeing, Bleaching, Tanneries etc and it has proven to be very successful and ecologically profitable for the State of Tamil Nadu in the last 10 years.
The installment of both these technologies at Gujarat’s CETPs can help successfully solve the problem of river pollution without compromising the health of our people and our oceans. I appreciate your time and it is my sincere hope that you can take decisive action in response to our concerns about this project.

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