11% of these industries continue to flout pollution control standards in the country; nearly half of these are in Uttar Pradesh
In India, both surface and groundwater resources are under stress. One of the reasons for this is the substantial increase in the number of grossly polluting industries (GPI) between 2011 and 2018.
There has been a 136 per cent increase in the number of grossly polluting industries over the period, according to the State of India’s Environment (SoE) In Figures, 2019.
Around 84 per cent of the GPIs were found to be located in four states — Uttar Pradesh (1,079), Haryana (638), Andhra Pradesh (193) and Gujarat (178).
GPIs are industries that discharge more than 1,00,000 litres of wastewater and/or hazardous chemicals into the rivers, and include pulp and paper mills, distilleries, sugar mills, textile units, tanneries, thermal power plants, the food, dairy and beverage industries, chemical units, slaughterhouses, etc.
Half of India’s non-compliant GPIs are in UP
Close to 11 per cent or nearly 275 industrial units continue to operate by flouting the pollution control standards in the country. Nearly half of these non-compliant GPIs are in Uttar Pradesh and are responsible for polluting rivers like the Ganga.
There are 992 industries in the main stem of Ganga and its referred tributaries, Kali and Ramganga. Out of which, 851 industrial units are in UP, followed by 61 in Uttarakhand, 43 in West Bengal and 40 in Bihar.
According to the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), the industrial pockets in the catchments of Ramganga and Kali tributaries and in Kanpur city are significant sources of industrial pollution. The major contributors are tanneries in Kanpur; and distilleries, paper mills and sugar mills in the Kosi, Ramganga and Kali river catchments.
Amongst these, the sugar industry is the key violator. For example, Simbhaoli Sugar Ltd in Hapur continues to discharge partially treated effluents into the Ganga, posing potential threat to river water quality, noted the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on May 31, 2019.
It asked the company to deposit Rs 32.4 lakh by June 15, 2019 towards environmental compensation, and also explain why it should not be closed down until it meets all the pollution control norms specified by CPCB.
Several other sugar industries have also been found to be operational while being non-complaint. However, this is contradictory to the statement made by the Union Environment Secretary CK Mishra last month.
He had claimed that “no industry is discharging black waste in Ganga”. Even as the government remains in denial mode, no significant action has been taken by the NMCG over the last nine months, noted the National Green Tribunal (NGT).
In August 2018, the NGT had directed the NMCG to prepare a detailed status report on the grossly and severely polluting industries situated along Ganga from Unnao to the Bay of Bengal, along with the treatment facilities and drains falling into it, within four months.
Poor governance in Jharkhand and Punjab
In Jharkhand, 87 per cent of the 39 industries are pumping untreated waste into the rivers. Similarly, Punjab has failed to control pollution in three out of five of its GPIs.
According to Sanjeev Kumar Kanchan, an industry expert, the GPIs have little investments and technical capacity to treat their effluents. A push from the government and support is required to strengthen their capacities.
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