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Row over report

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Jan 31, 2002 | From the print edition
Proposed norms on effluent discharge into Narmada tributary questioned

A recent report on the dumping of effluents in the Amlakhadi channel in Bharuch district of Gujarat has attracted flak from environmentalists. The document, prepared by Nagpur-based National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), lays down norms that are impractical and, therefore, likely to remain on paper, contend activists. It is also felt that the report is silent on Water Act rules.

The three estates of Ankleshwar, Jhaghadia and Panoli -- run by the Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC), Gandhinagar -- release their effluents into the Amlakhadi channel, a tributary of the Narmada. Farmers and experts have observed that the river overflows during monsoon, inundating fields and leaving behind contamination. Marine life is also adversely affected. Having realised this, the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB), appointed NEERI to look into the situation in April 2000.

Vadodara-based environmental group Centre for Environment, Science and Community (CESCOM) has come down heavily on the NEERI report. It does not seem to address the issues that are pertinent, feels Ashok Rathi, secretary, CESCOM. The High Court had directed the GPCB to set down the standards for the Amlakhadi stream, taking into account the minimum fair weather dilution available and the tolerance limits of pollution permissible.

But R Sarin, senior scientist with NEERI who has been involved in the making of the report, refutes these allegations. Activist organisations are merely caviling at the document "without understanding the technical aspects of the situation", he says and adds that their claims are false.

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