in india, cases of industries flouting environmental laws are not rare and in Gujarat this has become a rule. To set up any industry, an environmental clearance from the Union ministry of environment and forests (mef ) is necessary. This is the only hurdle, albeit insignificant. Before giving the industry a green signal to approach the mef, the Gujarat Pollution Control Board ( gpcb) conducts a public hearing on environmental aspects. The hour-long meeting is characterised by heated debates between industrialists and the local people. The minutes of this debate is then sent to the ministry and the industry gets a reply within 90 days. But, according to a report in The Times of India recently, there are half-a-dozen instances when industries have begun operating even before getting their clearance certificates. Mahesh Pandya of the Ahmedabad-based Centre for Social Justice, who has studied 21 such meetings, says: "The system is effective but the panel is a powerless body. Some collectors and district authorities treat it as a mere formality.
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