On a day Arvind Limited approached the Gujarat High Court against the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation’s move to disconnect the firm’s effluent connection to the sewage treatment plant (STP) that discharges into the Sabarmati river, a division bench the Gujarat High Court Friday came down heavily on the state’s pollution control board for the river pollution fiasco.
The court’s observation came when the division bench of Justices JB Pardiwala and VD Nanavati was hearing Arvind Limited’s counsel for seeking priority listing of its plea against the civic body’s move. Senior advocate Mihir Thakore, on behalf of Arvind Limited, pointed out that GPCB, under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, had granted the unit the permission to discharge their industrial water in AMC’s STP following treatment in the industrial unit’s own Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP).
“Every industry says ‘I’ve my own treatment plant (CETP)’… If you’re going to show us the permissions, they are per se illegal connections… What business does GPCB have to grant permission to an industry (to discharge industrial water, whether treated or untreated)? Show us the power (under which GPCB granted permission). GPCB has made a mess, an absolute mess,” remarked Justice Pardiwala.
During the mentioning, Thakore also requested the division bench to circulate the matter as the disconnection has led to the unemployment of 1,200 employees of the industrial unit. He added that the water from the industrial unit meets the parameters and was “potable” and that the discharge from Arvind Limited “helps the sewage.”
Thakore expressed his apprehension that another unit of Arvind Limited is “likely to be closed” owing to similar circumstances, which in turn would render another 2,000 employees unemployed, apart from commercial implications that would include “global contracts being affected”.
However, Justice Pardiwala dismissed Thakore’s oral submissions by remarking that such permission by GPCB is “without jurisdiction” and that it is a “matter of common sense (that) trade effluents cannot be discharged through a sewage line.” The bench, however, permitted Thakore to appear before the court on November 29 when it intends to issue notice to the other parties in the litigation. The court also directed Arvind Limited to indicate the provisions of law that grant GPCB power to authorise such connections.
The AMC move to disconnect unauthorised effluent connections to STPs came after the Gujarat HC, in October, during a hearing of a suo motu public interest litigation (PIL) on the release of untreated industrial effluents and sewage water into the Sabarmati river, cracked the whip on the civic body for “shirking its responsibilities”.
“Politicians have involved themselves. We are going to take the strictest of the view. We are not going to spare anyone. We just want the name of the politician and we are going to take the action. There is a serious complaint that politicians have started interfering in the administration of this litigation. They are threatening AMC officials. This sewerage belongs to AMC,” Justice Pardiwala further remarked Friday.