Industries across Gujarat have sought intervention of state and central government to get more time to comply with the order by National Green Tribunal (NGT) to meet the emission norms. NGT has declared five industrial clusters as critically polluted and therefore run a risk of closure. However, environmental activists say that industries have been given enough time and now strict action should be taken against them.
In a letter to Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Union Minister of Environment and Forest, Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) said that industries in Gujarat are proactive in adopting new technologies to mitigate pollution. Huge investments have been made in the creation of new Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CETP). “This has enabled a reduction in emission by about 90 per cent in a short period of time. Improving standards from this stage require technology intervention and reasonable time. We, therefore, request that stage-wise benchmarks from this stage should be provided to industries and reasonable time should be provided,” said the letter.
NGT judgement overrides CEPI guidelines and is therefore unreasonable. Tests by GPCB and CPCB show varying results.
In case of Ahmedabad, GCCI blamed Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) for failing to comply with effluent norms. Of the 1,200 Million Litres of Day (MLD), close to 1,050 MLD is contributed by AMC, but close to 90 per cent of it is untreated. Under such circumstances, industries need more hand-holding.
“Industries believe in meeting all legal norms. In past also we have improved our emission norms. But we need time to adhere to new norms. Industries are ready to meet the norms in a phased manner so that there is a balance between environment and economic well being as well,” said Durgesh Buch, president of GCCI.
Yogesh Kabari, former president of Vapi Industries Association (VIA) said that it was after long-drawn and costly exercise that industrial clusters came out of the critically polluted tag. However, with the new parameter, they have been re-classified as critically polluted. He said that the latest parameters are also unfair as industries have no role in the emission of certain effluents.
“Carbon monoxide pollution is predominantly due to vehicular emission, while phosphorous pollution is because of domestic waste. No one can blame industries or hold them liable to comply with these norms,” said Kabari.
GCCI warned that NGT judgement will cause more harm. Harsh actions like closure, penalties and prosecution should be suspended for two years to provide reasonable time to industries to meet effluent emission norms.
However, environment activist Rohit Prajapati said that industries are being told to adhere to a judgement of Supreme Court dated February 22, 2017. “Industries had lots of time. What have they done so far? It is high time that those not complying to the norms are punished severely. Legally, a criminal case can be filed against owners. But even the governments are going soft,” said Prajapati. He also said that the data does not reveal the real extent of pollution and the actual condition is even worse.