Authorities keeping mum after failing to ensure that Gujarat units observe effluent treatment norms

pollutionx (1)Rohit Prahapati and Krishanakant of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS), in a letter to the Union environment and forests minister seek cancellation of the ‘Consolidated Consent and Authorization’ (CC&A) and issue closure notice to Narmada Clean Tech (NCT), Ankleshwar, as the Final Effluent Treatment Plant (FETP) for failing to meet the prescribed Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) norms. Text: forwarded to relevant officials of Central and Gujarat government. Text:

It is expected that the Government and State will take all possible actions to implement the Environment Laws of the Land.

Similarly, it is expected that the Government and State will implement and monitor the Supreme Court Order, dated 22 February 2017, of Writ Petition (Civil) No. 375 of 2012 as directed by the Supreme Court in its Order.

We have been writing letters since 2008 about the ‘Final Effluent Treatment Plant’ (FETP) of Narmada Clean Tech of Ankleshwar (NCT) which is not able to meet the prescribed norms of GPCB since its inception. This is publicly well known fact. We had again taken up this issue of non-compliance with the concerned authorities but there has been no-response in terms of actions on ground from the concerned authorities as if silence is your reply or being non-committal is your commitment to the environment.

In such circumstances, we request that the Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Chief Secretary, Gujarat State and the Chairman & Member Secretary of the GPCB to enlighten us with the law or judicial discretion under which the illegal effluent discharge from the NCT is still allowed to be released despite it consistently not meeting the prescribed norms of the GPCB.

We are extremely concerned that the Secretary, MoEFCC, Chief Secretary, Gujarat State and the Chairman & Member Secretary of the GPCB are openly allowing the NCT to consistently and admittedly violate the environment laws.

The latest investigation results January 2018 and those of the past January 2017 to December 2017 (click HERE) clearly indicate that even when moratorium of Ankleshwar and Panoli was lifted; it was admittedly not able to meet the prescribed GPCB norms. The copies of these reports are attached with the letter. The Summery of the January 2017 to January 2018 Reports is mentioned at the end of the letter.

The Narmada Clean Tech (NCT) formerly known as Bharuch Eco Aqua Infrastructure Ltd. (BEAIL), earlier a private company, is now a subsidiary company of Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC). The GIDC is a statutory corporation and is 100% owned by Government of Gujarat. The NCT is also a joint venture of Member Industries of Ankleshwar, Jhagadia and Panoli Industrial Estates.

The NCT claims to receive treated industrial effluent from Ankleshwar, Jhagadia & Panoli Industrial Estates’ common effluent treatment plants (CETPs) and to “treat” it at Final Effluent Treatment Plant (FETP) upto prescribed norms of GPCB  and then to convey through 52.76 kms pipeline into the sea.

It is well-established that the FETP, from its inception till date, has never performed as per the prescribed norms set by the GPCB. Shockingly and surprisingly, the same plant’s disposal pipeline project was inaugurated by the then Chief Minister of Gujarat Mr. Narendra Modi, now Prime Minister of India on January 25, 2007. By inaugurating this plant, Mr. Modi sent out a message to industry and new investors that compliance with environment laws was a trivial matter in the state.

The pipeline project of Final Effluent Treatment Plant of Ankleshwar was built with the tax payers’ money. Out of a total project cost of Rs. 131.43 crores, the industries paid only Rs. 21.75 crores (about 17%); the rest of the expense (Rs. 109 crores) was borne by the Central Government, the Gujarat Government, and the Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) – all of which ultimately draw from public, tax payers’ money. It is a familiar story: the profits are distributed privately, but the institutional costs and environmental burden are borne by general public. This is the perfect example of the privatisation of profits and the socialisation of various kinds of costs, stresses, and hazards. Why does government disburse the cost to tax payers when industries pollute?

It is also in the public domain that the 52.97 Kms pipeline which carries the effluent from NCT to the sea for discharge has many times been broken and that lead to illegal discharge into Amla Khadi which at the end meets the Narmada River and much time often into the farmlands in various villages.

Repeated complains of the farmers are deliberately ignored.

Your inaction gives clear indication that you, as an authority, are not only well aware of these facts but you also have taken conscious decisions illegally allowing such consistent blatant violations of environment laws of the country.

We ask you to respect environmental laws. Any action to the contrary will tantamount to committing an extra-legal act akin to an ‘encounter’ of environment laws and Contempt of the Supreme Court Order dated 22.02.2017.

It is expected from you all to implement environmental laws of the country and Supreme Court Order dated 22.02.2017 in letter and spirit.

Under which environment laws or regulations the Tadgam Sarigam Pipeline from Vapi CETP, from FETP – Ankleshwar, from ECP – Vadodara, and from CETPs of Ahmedabad are allowed to discharge their effluent into the water bodies of this region, even though the effluent is not able to meet the prescribed GPCB norms? Please provide us all the crucial information regarding this matter at your earliest.

On 22 February 2017 the bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court Chief Justice Mr. Jagdish Singh Khehar, Justice Dr. D. Y. Chandrachud, and Justice Mr. Sanjay Kishan Kaul passed crucial order in the Writ Petition (Civil) No. 375 of 2012 of Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) and Farmers Action Group (FAG) to combat industrial pollution and untreated sewage waste to protect river, sea, and all other water bodies of India. Copy of the Order is attached herewith the letter.

The following main directions were given by the Hon’ble Supreme Court:

The industry requiring “consent to operate” can be permitted to run only if its primary effluent treatment plant is functional. The  Supreme Court  directed the concerned State Pollution Control Boards, to issue notices to all industrial units, which require “consent to operate”, by way of a common advertisement, requiring them to make their primary effluent treatment plants fully operational, within three months from the date of order. That deadline ended on 22 May 2017. On the expiry of the notice period of three months, the concerned State Pollution Control Board(s) are mandated to carry out inspections, to verify, whether or not, each industrial unit requiring “consent to operate”, has a functional primary effluent treatment plant meeting all the norms and standards of operations and quality of effluent that is released. Those industrial units which have not been able to make their primary effluent treatment plant fully operational, within the notice period, shall be restrained from any further industrial activity.

Supreme Court also directs that ‘sewage treatment plants’ shall also be set up and made functional, within the stated time lines.

The Secretary of the Department of Environment, of the concerned State Government (and the concerned Union Territory), shall be answerable in case of default.

The concerned Secretaries to the Government shall be responsible for monitoring the progress and issuing necessary directions to the concerned Pollution Control Board, as may be required, for the implementation of the directions.

To supervise complaints of non-implementation of the instant directions, the concerned Benches of the National Green Tribunal, will maintain running and numbered case files, by dividing the jurisdictional area into units. The case will be listed periodically.

The concerned Pollution Control Board is also directed, to initiate civil or criminal action, as may be permissible in law, against all or any of the defaulters.

It would be in the interest of implementation of the objectives that are sought to be achieved, to also require each concerned State (and each, concerned Union Territory) to make provision for “online, real time, continuous monitoring system” to display emission levels, in the public domain, on the portal of the concerned State Pollution Control Board. Such measures shall be put in place by all the concerned State Governments (including, the concerned Union Territories), within six months from 22.02.2017. This deadline has also passed.

The Principal Bench of the Nation Green Tribunal, Delhi has taken up the hearing of the Original Application No. 593 of 2017 for the implementation of the Supreme Court Order dated 22.02.2017. Next date of the hearing is 12 March 2018. Copy of the last NGT Order, dated 15 January 2018, is attached herewith the letter.

Keeping in mind the above alarming facts and reality which is not under dispute, we can surely describe the grave situation as a “chemical emergency”.  In order to reduce further harm to the people and environment, the following immediate steps ought to be taken immediately:

  1. The concerned authorities should immediately cancel the ‘Consolidated Consent and Authorization’ (CC & A) of ‘to ‘Narmada Clean Tech (NCT).
  2. The concerned authorities should immediately issue a closure notice to Narmada Clean Tech (NCT).
  3. The concerned authorities should take exemplary action, including cancellation of ‘Environment Clearance’ (EC) of all the defaulting polluting industries, and take stringent and exemplary action against their main owners and responsible officers of these industrial estates.
  4. A committee should be appointed to assess the ongoing damage and the damage resulting from the past inactions to quantify and pay the real compensation for the damage done to all the villagers.
  5. An immediate short and long term plan should be made for remedial measures to decontaminate the groundwater based on the “Polluter Pays Principle” and based on the best practices for such measures.
  6. A high level committee of the MoEFCC, CPCB, GPCB, local state authority, representatives of affected villagers, and the representatives of the voluntary organizations working in this area on environment should be constituted and appointed to conduct and report day-to-day monitoring of the area.
  7. Provide us the soft and hard copies of your actual time-bound plans, along with relevant documents, to implement the Hon’ble Supreme Court order dated 22 February 2017 in our PIL – Writ Petition (Civil) 375 of 2012.
  8. Include the local affected people and the organisations working on protection of environment in your state in the implementing process itself so that order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court is implemented in letter and spirit.

We expect your prompt and positive response in the interest of life, livelihoods, and environment of the concerned areas.

If you do not act know, it will also be considered as the contempt of the court of the Hon’ble Supreme Court order dated 22 February 2017 in our PIL – Writ Petition (Civil) 375 of 2012.

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