December 17, 2021 1:27:27 am
Following a hearing last week in the suo motu public interest litigation on the pollution of the Sabarmati river, the Gujarat High Court issued several directions, including directing the Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) to “disclose the availability of vacant lands” outside the city and a proposal to the state government to offer incentives for existing industrial units functioning within the limits of Ahmedabad city to relocate to such lands.
The court, in an order dated December 10 and made public Thursday, also implored the state government to work “on a war-footing basis” to identify a location and issue a tender to set up a state-of-the-art common effluent treatment (CETP) having adequate facilities to treat such wastewater. It added that the “control of such plant shall remain vested with the state government” as it would ensure proper treatment of the wastewater. Currently, CETPs are run and managed by trade associations.
“The GIDC should disclose the availability of the vacant lands. The state government shall undertake the task of framing offers/incentives for the existing industries/units functioning within the Ahmedabad city to relocate to such places. While doing so, the GIDC will ensure that it sets up a state-of-the-art CETP that would treat the trade effluent generated from such industries. Moving industries/units outside the city may ensure reduction in the air pollution within the city and the discharge of the trade effluent will also be monitored,” the court said.
It also directed CETP plants to deposit Environment Damage Compensation (EDC) as imposed by the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB), on or before December 22.
It was brought to the court’s notice that CETPs have ignored several orders passed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), New Delhi, in the past, directing them to submit their action plans and to implement the same by a specific date. In response, the bench of Justices JB Pardiwala and VD Nanavati noted that those managing the CETPs have completely disregarded the directions issued by NGT.
Further, seeking an explanation on the non-implementation of the action plan, the court noted: “…the said date (of implementing the action plan as proposed by CETP management) has gone by. The management of such CETPs, which were required to approach NGT for extension of time, has not done so… Hence, the management of such CETPs is directed to place on record the action plan submitted by them before the National Green Tribunal and explain as to why the same has not been implemented within the stipulated time period.”
The court once again directed AMC to furnish the bank guarantee to GPCB. “The GPCB has asked for the bank guarantee from the AMC in reference to their STPs and also from the management of the CETPs. Such guarantees have not yet been furnished. When directions are issued by this court to the CETPs, then the AMC should also furnish the guarantee,” the court directed. On December 6, too, the court had sought an explanation from AMC on why the guarantees were not encashed since the CETPs and STPs (sewage treatment plants) were non-functional.
The GPCB had submitted during the course of the hearing on December 10 that it would avail the technical services of CSIR- National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) to assess the situation with regards to the CETPs as part of its action plan. In response, the court said: “The NEERI shall inspect the stage-wise performance of each of the CETPs by collecting stage-wise samples and opine on the effectiveness of the treatment scheme adopted. Since the treatment scheme for efficient treatment of any wastewater depends principally on the constituents of wastewater, it should be identified as to what types of industries and specific organic matter make the treatment of wastewater difficult at a CETP. Also, the CETP inlet parameters shall be compared with the design criteria.”
Meanwhile, the court advised the CETPs to focus on the reusability of the water released following the treatment. “Such water (treated industrial effluent water) should be diverted back to the industries which, in turn, may further process the same and thereafter, use it in their units or directly use such water. This will ensure re-usability of water,” the order noted.
The court also suggested that the pipeline would carry the wastewater to a common treatment plant that would further treat the wastewater and thereafter, the water would be released downstream the Sabarmati river.
The court noted that an “indiscriminate disposal of the city’s sewage and industrial waste into the Sabarmati river has been turning the river into a cesspool of dangerous drug-resistant bacteria and toxic heavy metals that have contaminated sediments on the riverbed”.
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