Sabarmati pollution: Inspect all industrial effluent treatment plants, Gujarat HC tells government

Domestic waste water and industrial effluent generated daily by Ahmedabad is discharged into the Sabarmati

By Shreya Verma
Published: Saturday 15 January 2022

The Gujarat High Court recently directed the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) and the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) and the joint task force (JTF) to inspect all effluent treatment plants (ETPs) of textile industries in Ahmedabad, in regard to pollution in the Sabarmati river.

These industries had moved the HC seeking relief as their units were shut down after not being allowed by the HC to discharge industrial effluents into sewerage lines.

The court’s direction came during its hearing into the suo motu public interest litigation on pollution in the Sabarmati January 7, 2022. The court also asked for a progress report on the inspection at the next hearing January 21.

The division bench, comprising of Justice JB Pardiwala and Vaishnavi D Nanavati, also directed that “the AMC shall continue its drive of detecting and identifying illegal industrial connections into sewers and snap all such connections at the earliest. While doing so, the AMC shall ensure that the power supply also is stopped or disconnected.”

The court also directed the AMC “to ask the Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar to undertake the project of inspection of all the 14 sewage treatment plants (STPs) at the earliest.”

The GPCB was “directed to look into the proposal of Arvind Ltd so far as the Zero Liquid Discharge is concerned and take an appropriate decision at the earliest and give a final nod in the form of Consolidated Consent & Authorization or by any other legal mode.”

The court also asked the state government about the deep-sea effluent-disposal pipeline project that it had initiated in November 2020.

The project, that was to start in January 2021, was to be implemented under the public private partnership mode. The state government was to fund 70 per cent of the capital cost and the rest was to be by industrial units through their respective associations.

The Rs 2,275 crore deep sea effluent disposal pipeline project envisioned to collect treated effluent from 11 common effluent treatment plants (CETP) of Ahmedabad, one from Kheda, one from Vadodara and one from Jetpur near Rajkot and discharge them into the deep sea.

The scheme was aimed at the rejuvenation of the polluted Sabarmati, Mahi, Vishwamitri and Bhadar rivers of Gujarat.

Some 4,400 industrial units in Ahmedabad, Vadodara and Jetpur stood to benefit from the scheme of which, 92 per cent are small-scale industries.

Kamal Trivedi, Gujarat’s advocate-general, informed the court January 7 that a tender at an estimated cost of Rs 1,647.4 crore was invited online by the Gujarat Water Infrastructures Ltd (a Government of Gujarat undertaking) in October 2020.

There was no information about what happened after the tender was floated.

‘Dilution not the solution’

So why were the industrial units not able to comply with the pollution norms, for which they were shut down? Rohit Prajapati, a member of the JTF and an environmental activist, said it should be kept in mind that “dilution is not the solution whenever there is talk about deep sea discharge to solve the problem of water pollution.”

He noted:

When we design the “discharge norms” the fundamental question we should ask to ourselves that are we designing the “discharge norms” based on carrying capacity of the area ie keeping in the mind existing pollution load of the water source whether it is river or sea.

He added that the tidal activities in the Gulf of Khambhat drove the highly toxic and polluted wastewaters inland, at the estuaries of the Mahi and Sabarmati rivers, causing tremendous risk to the settlements, villages, and towns in that region.

“We believe that this is the result of continuous and voluminous discharge of effluents and sewage over a period of more than three decades, which has a high probability of toxic sediments being deposited along the stretches in the Gulf of Khambhat,” Prajapati said.

Prajapati said sampling of Sabarmati water was carried out during December 2021.

The water quality downstream of Vasna barrage on the river at Kamod and Miroli village showed high concentration of chemical oxygen demand, faecal coliform, biochemical oxygen demand, total dissolved solids and very low concentration of dissolved oxygen.

Such water was not fit for any beneficial purpose, Prajapati said.

The Sabarmati river in Ahmedabad is the source of water for industrial, agriculture and domestic activities.

A large number of industries related to textiles, dyes & dye intermediates, chemicals, TPS, machinery, metal products, pharmaceutical, engineering, plastics, etc are located in the city.

The entire domestic waste water from Ahmedabad equal to a volume of around 880 million litres per day (MLD) and industrial effluent around 120.88 MLD is discharged into the river.

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