Patrolling pollution

Tamil Nadu becomes the first state to punish polluting petrol stations

Published: Friday 31 August 2001

for the first time in India, a state pollution control board has taken action against a polluter under the Water (Prevention and Control) Act of 1974 and the Air (Prevention and Control) Act of 1981. The precedent has been set by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board ( tnpcb ), which recently directed the Indian Oil Corporation ( ioc ) to stop the supply of petrol to a filling station at Egmore, as it is allegedly responsible for groundwater contamination in the area.

India does not have any guidelines or regulations for the underground storage fuel tanks. "The us and Europe have stringent rules for underground storage tank for fuels. But in India, despite the companies admitting that storage tanks are a major source of pollution, no laws have been introduced to combat the situation," admits B Sengupta, member secretary of the Central Pollution Control Board ( cpcb ).

Acting on a complaint filed by Subadra Nair, who lives next to the polluting bunk, the tnpcb board took the decision. Nair alleged that torrential petrol seepage from the tanks of Babu Enterprises filling station was contaminating the drinking water in nearby wells. Charles Rodriguez, a district environmental engineer deputed by the board, found that strong hydrocarbon fumes emanated from these wells. Not only this, samples of the well water when tested showed the presence of petrol. According to tnpcb chairperson Sheela Rani Chunkath, not only are the tanks contaminating the underground water sources but are also sources of polluting evaporative emissions (Read: Polluting outlets, Down To Earth, August 15, 2001).

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