NGT wants environment compensation regime for non-complying CETPs

NGT directives to CPCB to develop environmental compensation regime for non-complying CETPs may act as deterrence against non-compliance

By Sugandha Arora Sardana
Published: Tuesday 02 June 2020
About 191 Common effluent treatment plants (CETP) are operational in India. Photo: Monali Zeya

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has asked the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to submit information regarding compliance and non-compliance of effluent treatment plants, sewage treatment plants and common effluent treatment plants in the country. It has also asked the green body to evolve an environmental compensation regime for such non-complying plants not meeting the prescribed discharge standards.

The CPCB in May 2020 submitted a compliance report to the NGT in an order dated August 28, 2019 regarding non-complying wastewater treatment plants operating across several states in India.

According to the submitted report, about 191 common effluent treatment plants (CETP) are operational in India — 128 of them are complying and 63 are non-complying.

Show-cause / closure notices have been issued to 22 non-complying CETPs; legal cases filed against 9 CETPs; and no action has been taken so far for the remaining 32 CETPs.

At least 82 new CETPs are under construction across various states. A majority of the non-complying CETPs are located in Gujarat (non-complying-17), Rajasthan (non-complying-11), Tamil Nadu (non-complying-9) and Delhi (non-complying -9). During inspection conducted by CPCB in 2019, it was found that some of these CETPs were operating without any consent renewal.

On being asked about environmental compensation regime for non-compliant CETPs, the NGT was informed by CPCB about a formula to levy environmental compensation on any defaulting industry. The formula, the same as was finalised in 2017, is as follows:

EC = PI x N x R x S x LF

  • EC is Environmental Compensation in rupees
  • PI is Pollution Index
  • N is number of days of non-compliance
  • R is factor in rupees for EC
  • S is factor for scale of operation
  • LF is factor for location of the industry.

Environmental compensation can be levied by CPCB only when it has issued directions to the non-complying unit under the Environment Protection Act, 1986.

This issue of environmental compensation regime for CETPs was discussed in February and March 2020. Based on the discussions held in the committee meeting, NGT asked CPCB to prepare and finalise a revised environmental compensation regime for non-complying CETPs.

The CPCB, therefore, is now in the process of revising the EC regime for CETPs.

Imposing environmental compensation fines can prove as an effective deterrence mechanism. But developing a mechanism is remains a challenge for regulatory authorities.

Strict governance is the need of the hour and such systems can fast track compliance, according to Nivit Kumar Yadav, senior programme manager at Centre for Science and Environment.

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