Polluters under MoEF scanner

Ministry bans setting up of industries in eight highly polluted industrial clusters

 
By Sugandh Juneja
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

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THE UNION Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has imposed a moratorium on setting up new industries or expanding existing ones in eight industrial clusters in the country after a Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) survey showed high pollution levels in these areas. The clusters are: Vapi (Gujarat), Ghaziabad (Uttar Pradesh), Singrauli (Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh), Panipat (Haryana), Indore, (Madhya Pradesh), Ludhiana (Punjab), Jharsuguda (Odisha) and Patancheru-Ballaram (Andhra Pradesh).

In these areas, a moratorium was imposed earlier as well, in January 2010, but lifted by July 2011ÔÇêon the basis of pollution control measures proposed by the concerned state pollution control boards (SPCB).

The ministry has also lifted its ban on developmental projects in 10 industrial clusters as the survey found a dip in pollution levels at these places. These are Bhiwadi (Rajasthan), Dhanbad (Jharkhand), Korba (Chhattisgarh), Manali (Tamil Nadu), Ahmedabad (Gujarat), Asansole (West Bengal), Haldia (West Bengal), Howrah (West Bengal), Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh) and Kanpur (Uttar Pradesh). The Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index (CEPI) score in these Critically Polluted Areas (CPAs) was found to be below 80 (on a scale of one to 100, 100 being most polluted) and has shown a decreasing trend compared to the score assessed by CPCB in 2011. P B Rastogi, director, MoEF, says, “We have lifted moratorium only in those clusters where improvements have been shown. This is not a one-time process, we will reassess every six months or year and then decide on the performance of the state action plans.”

Pollution survey

The MoEF decisions are based on the revised CEPI scores assessed by CPCB from February to April this year. The CEPI score is a measure of pollution in industrial areas. CEPI was introduced in December 2009 based on which MoEF imposed a moratorium on any development project in 43 CPAs in January 2010. SPCBs were to prepare time-bound action plans during the moratorium period for improving environmental quality in the area. These plans were to be finalised by CPCB. The moratorium, initially imposed till August 2010, was extended by the ministry. Subsequently, SPCBs started submitting action plans, based on which the ministry lifted moratorium on 26 industrial clusters by July 2011.

Noose tightened

According to the office memorandum of the ministry, “even after a period of two and a half years of implementation of action plans, there is no improvement in the environmental quality”. However, it is interesting to note that MoEF had lifted moratorium in these CPAs from October 2010 to July 2011 based on the action plans of the respective SPCBs.

The ministry order says that projects like highway, common effluent treatment and municipal solid waste project would be allowed in these CPAs. Modernisation of the existing industries in these areas would be allowed, but only if the pollution load does not increase, which will be certified by the SPCB and accepted by the Expert Appraisal Committee of MoEF.

Next review

The next review of these clusters will be carried out between December 2013 and February 2014.

There has been a lot of criticism earlier over the action plans submitted by SPCBs, based on which moratoriums were lifted. An analysis by Delhi non-profit Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) in 2011 showed that the projections in the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board’s mitigation action plan in Cuddalore were misleading. Similarly, in 2012, CSE highlighted that the action plan forÔÇêSingrauli did not take into account the mercury pollution in the area. CSE was also critical of the moratorium being lifted in Vapi and had found the action plan inadequate.

Chandra Bhushan, deputy director, CSE, says, “We are happy that for the first time in the country we have a system to identify areas as critically polluted, with the performance of the state action plans also being tracked. What is needed is better data collection, monitoring and analysis so that action can be taken quicker than in two-three years.”

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  • Please find below my mail to

    Please find below my mail to Chief Secretary of Andhra Pradesh with copies to MoEF & CPCB:

    Dear Sir,

    I submitted a request through a mail dated 27th July 2013 [copy enclosed] to withdraw Ban ÔÇô Permanent Ban on Establishment of certain Polluting Industries in Medak, Ranga Reddy, Mahaboobnagar and Nalgonda Districts- Amendment Notification ÔÇô Orders-Issued. Environment, Forests, Science & Technology [E. F. S. & T., GoAP] Department G.O. Ms. No. 64 Dated: 25-07-2013.ÔÇØ

    The Ministry of Forests and Environment [MoEF] has re-imposed the ban on projects approvals in the Patancheru-Bollarum Industrial clusters as environmental pollution levels have exceeded limits [Ref2]. The ban is based on the results of a survey which was conducted by the Central Pollution Control Board [CPCB] ÔÇô this is in continuation of 2010, 2011 results on CEPI. According to this analysis the CEPI score of 2013 has increased from 2010 level in Patancheru-Bollaram Industrial clusters from 70.07 to 76.05 [74.58 in 2011]. Though, according to CPCB the CEPI is gradually increasing since 2010, based on which Patancheru-Bollaram Industrial cluster zone was declared as critically polluted zone, to favour polluting industries Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board submitted an action plan to MoEF in 2010 in which they showed CEPI as 47.33 [at that time CPCB reported CEPI as 70.07].

    All these clearly reflected the mollified intentions of officials of different departments of Andhra Pradesh Government, namely the Principal Secretary of Industries and Commerce Department, the Member Secretary of APPCB and APPCB Chairman & members, HonÔÇÖble A.P. Pollution Control Appellate Authority chairman & members, High Level Expert Committee members, Advocate General of AP High Court for his irresponsible advise, & central Commerce Secretary and finally the Principle Secretary of AP state Department of Environment, Science & Technology [E. F. S. & T.]. They appears to be colluded with industry for the issue of said GO [Ref.I] to lift the ban notification.

    Appeal

    I appeal you, Sir, to take appropriate and stringent action on the following acting against the precautionary principle and giving importance to APPCB analysis over the series of analysis presented by CPCB and for presenting falsified CEPI index by APPCB officials that lead to all the fiasco of lifting the ban notification.

    1. You may please take ÔÇ£stringentÔÇØ action on the official(s) who was [were] responsible for the submission of falsified CEPI index that lead issue of above referred G.O.
    2. You may please take ÔÇ£appropriateÔÇØ action on the Chairman & Member Secretary; APPCB as without their tacit support and guidance the official(s) would have not dared to present such a falsified index.
    3. You may please take action on Appellate Authority & Board members of APPCB for blindly putting their signature, through reconstituting them.
    4. You may please order other departments to take appropriate action on officials concerned that blindly lend their support for the issue of the said GO cited above.

    With Regards

    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

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