Amid intense demand of industries and Gujarat government to lift the moratorium on industrial clusters of Vatva, Vapi and Ankleshwar, a high-level delegation of Union Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change (MoEF & CC) Tuesday visited the three clusters to review the prospects of lifting the moratorium. The team was led by Joint Secretary of MoEF & CC Manojkumar Singh and two officials of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
Principal Secretary (Environment & Forest Department, Government of Gujarat) Poonamchand Parmar, Managing Director of Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation Manoj Aggrawal and Secretary of Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) Hardik Shah accompanied the team to the three industrial clusters. During the visit, both Gujarat government and GPCB tried to impress upon the Central delegation about the activities done at the three clusters to check pollution and demanded to lift the moratorium.
Hardik Shah said, “The three visited all the three industrial clusters and met the industries also. Both Gujarat Government and GPCB have shown them the work done there to check pollution and have requested to lift the moratorium. We have also shown them three studies conducted by the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Central Salt & Marine Chemicals Research Institute (CSMCRI) and National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) to support our request.”
Vapi, Ankleshwar and Vatva industrial clusters of Gujarat are among the 75 severely polluted or critically polluted industrial clusters of the country on the basis of the Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index (CEPI) prepared by MoEF & CC, following aggressive representations by voluntary groups working in the field of environment protection on massive pollution done by industries. The MoEF had imposed the moratorium on these critically polluted zones during the UPA regime in 2009, restricting establishment of new units and expansion by existing ones. The industries of the three clusters and the Gujarat Government have been demanding lifting of the ban.
However, leading environmental activist from Paryavaran Sureaksha Samiti, Rohit Prajapati, criticised the visit on the ground that none of the actual stake-holders — the local citizens or the voluntary organisations who repeatedly raised the issue of environment protection — were notified or invited to meet the Central delegation. “It is very disturbing that none of the actual stakeholders, meaning those affected by the industrial pollution, the local citizens, we, the voluntary organisations who have raised the issue of environment protection were invited to these meetings,” Prajapati said in a release, alleging that industrialists had strongly lobbied for the removal of “critically polluted zone”. “We have repeatedly pointed out with compelling evidence how industrial treatment plants in Vatva, Ankleshwar and Vapi and other places in Gujarat have failed to meet the prescribed norms and instead have been used as front by the polluting industries to bypass the environment protection laws,” he said.
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