CETP standoff

Upward revision in cost of effluent treatment plants resented

By Vikas Parashar
Published: Friday 30 April 2004

the owners of Delhi's industrial units are up in arms about an unscheduled hike in the cost of setting up 15 common effluent treatment plants (cetps) in the capital. The Delhi government recently issued notices to more than 17,000 industrial units, asking them to pay an additional Rs 73.8 crore towards the revised cost of installing the cetps. But many industrialists have refused to shell out the money.

Following a Supreme Court (sc) order in 1996, the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (neeri) had estimated the cost of setting up the cetps to be Rs 90 crore. It had also identified 17,000 industrial units to be brought under cetp societies. But now the Delhi State Industrial Development Corporation (dsidc), which was given the task of building the cetps in tandem with these societies, has revised the cost to Rs 256 crore.

"We have paid whatever the sc asked us to. Why should we contribute more?" asks J R Jindal, president of the Delhi Factory Owners' Federation. Jalaj Srivastava, commissioner of Delhi's industry department, says: "Some industries approached us directly (not through societies) and are paying their dues. Others have moved the court."

Srivastava, who is also the managing director of dsidc, explains that the increase in cost is mainly due to the additional cost of infrastructure -- land, conveyance system and electrical installation -- in the revised estimates. "These were not part of neeri's calculations and add up to Rs 71 crore," he reveals. Besides, the capital cost of cetps has also increased from Rs 90 crore to Rs 165.8 crore. "But this is not too much considering the eight-year gap between the two estimates," he says.

R K Gupta, chief engineer, dsidc, alleges that the industries are not managing their waste properly. "Effluent containing hazardous metals like chromium and cyanide is being discharged without proper treatment."

Srivastava says the notices were issued as the dsidc "has invested Rs 145 crore and got back only Rs 115 crore in this project". He adds: "Both the government and industrialists are yet to pay up fully (see table: Mounting dues)." Besides, dues worth Rs 13 crore are yet to be cleared and Rs 70 lakh is needed every month to run the four existing cetps.

Mounting dues                                  (All amounts in Rs crore)
Share in CETP cost Amount due Paid Outstanding
Delhi government: Rs 41.45 crore (25 per cent of capital cost) + 35.48 crore (50 per cent of infrastructure cost) 76.93 64.50 12.43
Union government: In the same ratio as Delhi government 76.93 22.5 54.43
CETP societies: Rs 82.9 crore (50 per cent of capital cost) + Rs 19.61 crore (trial run and O&M cost) 102.51 28.7 73.81
Total 256.37 115.7 140.67S
Source: Anon 2004, ‘Special report from The Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority for National Capital Region: Status of Common Effluent Treatment Plants’, EPCA, New Delhi

But industrialists question the credibility of neeri's survey on the basis of which the notices were served. "For example, there are more than 1200 units in the Jhilmil industrial area. But neeri has mentioned only 701," points out R K Khetan, president of the Jhilmil Industrialists' Association.

neeri had recommended the setting up of 15 cetps in Delhi but only 10 have been constructed. Of these, only four are partially functional. dsidc officials allege that the quantity of effluents is low compared to what was estimated by neeri. Besides, the effluents are acidic and damage the metallic cylinders of the plants. "We tried to approach neeri officials but they are not ready to talk about the problem," says Gupta. When contacted, officials of neeri refused to comment on the issue. But reliable sources associated with neeri allege that dsidc had caused the problems by mishandling the venture.

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.