On january 13, the Union environment ministry imposed restrictions on new industries in critically polluted areas. The ministry had assessed 88 industrial areas across the country and identified 43 as critically polluted. Projects to set up new industries or to expand the existing ones in these areas have been put on hold till August 2010, after which the ministry will review the situation.
The state pollution control boards (spcbs) have been asked to draw up a plan-of-action for these areas to reduce the pollution load.
Critically polluted areas, under the new pollution index (see ‘A measure of pollution’, Down To Earth, January 16-31, 2010), are those with a score of over 70. Project proposals in industrial areas that score between 60 and 70 will be reviewed by the ministry’s expert appraisal committees at the initial stage. The spcbs will assess the project’s pollution load before it is considered for environmental clearances.
The ministry has issued a circular for Vapi, Ankaleshwar and Panoli in Gujarat. Ankaleshwar and Vapi top the index, scoring 88. In these areas the spcb has been asked not to issue no objection certificates to new units or expansion projects till the effluent treatment plants there comply with standards.
“The plan of action will outline ways and means of reducing the pollution level. It could be technology upgrades, infrastructural changes or setting up effluent treatment plants. It has not been finalized yet. In fact I’m not sure of the funding source either,” said a central pollution control board official.
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