Cracking the whip against industrial pollution,the Bombay High Court earlier this month directed the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) not to allow industries within 750 metres of a river after September 1 if their Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) or the waste discharge pipelines are not maintained according to standards stipulated.
The court has asked the MPCB to act if the prescribed standards are not adhered to by the CETPs by August 31.
In a public interest litigation filed by lawyer Nicholas Almeida,an affidavit filed by the MPCB and reports of effluents being discharged into five CETPs in the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) areas Lote Parshuram Environment Protection Co-operative Society Ltd in Ratnagiri,Greenfield CETP Plant Pvt Ltd in Solapur,Badlapur CETP Association,Chikhloli-Morivali Effluent Treatment and Tarapur Environment Protection Society CETP in Thane were submitted to the court.
Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice N M Jamdar observed,From the perusal of the said reports,it appears that the CETPs are not in a position to comply with the statutory norms. The court directed the associations running the CEPTs to inform the MPCB about highly polluting industries in four weeks and asked the latter to take action against them within the next four weeks.
The judges wrote in their five-page order,If highly polluting industries are allowed to discharge effluents that do not meet with the norms,the ultimate action of closure of the CETP will result into closure of all industries in that area. The court also directed the board to conduct surprise visits to check pollution levels in different plants.
If an industrial unit is found to be letting out effluents above the permissible inlet limits of the CETP,the court said,the CETP must issue a notice to the unit and the unit should then stop all manufacturing activities.
Hereafter,any industrial unit having its own effluent treatment plant shall not carry on manufacturing activity whenever its effluent treatment plant is not functioning for any reason whatsoever… it ordered.
From August 1,such units should also install a separate electric meter for their effluent treatment plant. Similarly,if a CETP does not function,its members should stop all manufacturing activities till the plants functions are restored,the court said.
In the various affidavits filed by MPCB in the PIL,it has come on record that Vaitarna,which provides drinking water to Mumbai,is among the most polluted rivers in Maharashtra. The MPCB has admitted that the bio-chemical oxygen demand (BOD) exceeds its standard of 5 mg/litre all the time, said lawyer Godfrey Pimenta,representing the petitioner.