Union environment ministry had lifted moratorium in the area after state pollution control board promised to improve the situation
Fourteen months after they assured to clean up their act, as many as 37 industrial units in the industrial town of Vapi in Gujarat have been found flouting pollution norms.
In January 2010, the Union ministry of environment imposed a moratorium on expansion and setting up new industries in these areas until the state pollution control board submits a mitigation action plan. The moratorium was lifted in October 2010 after the submission was made. Vapi was identified as the second most critically polluted area after Ankleshwar. Critically polluted areas are those where air, water and land pollution exceed the assimilative capacity of the environment, affecting human health.
“Most of the industries were found to be discharging effluent with high chemical oxygen demand (COD) content between 1,000-2,000 mg/litre,” says G V Patel, regional officer, Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB). The permissible limit for COD at the effluent outlet point is 1,000mg/litre. This came to the fore during the quarterly review meeting of all the stakeholders held in Vapi on December 31, 2011.
Also, many of the industries have not still employed improved measures to control emission of air pollutants. “They also do not have the equipments to control the flow, pH, total organic carbon in the industrial effluent flowing into Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP),” adds Patel. These works were supposed to be finished by December 2010. The industries have now been given time till end of February to fix the problems.
A monitoring done in mid last year by Central Pollution Control Board also revealed that the effluent characteristics of CETP outlet including total dissolved solids (TDS), biological oxygen demand (BOD), COD, cyanide (CN) and ammonical nitrogen (NH3-N) were above norms. TDS was 395 per cent, BOD was 237 per cent, COD was 212 per cent, CN was 200 per cent and NH3-N was 140 per cent higher than the standards.
According to state pollution control board, a team from the environment ministry is likely to visit Vapi in March to take stock of the situation and implementation of action plan.
Down To Earth reported about the grim situation in Vapi in its July 1-15 cover story ‘Dirty Forever’. The laboratory report of effluent samples collected by Centre for Science and Environment, a Delhi based non-profit, from Vapi had shown that pollutant levels were way higher than permissible limits. Through the story, DTE, had indicated that removal of moratorium before pollution norms are met may make the industries complacent in cleaning up their act. The recent data of the state pollution board has only proved its fears true.
“It is quite clear that the industries are not serious about cleaning up their act. The government should take strict action against the defaulters,” says Rohit Prajapati, an environmental activist based in Vadodara.
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