December 11, 2021 12:20:32 am
A division bench of the Gujarat High Court hearing a suo motu public interest litigation concerning pollution in Sabarmati river owing to dumping of untreated sewage and trade effluents, instructed Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) to “proceed further with necessary actions”, on showcause notices issued to seven Common Effluent Treatment Plants earlier this month.
GPCB reportedly issued showcause notices to all seven CETPs on December 4 seeking an explanation on why action must not be taken against them for not adhering to permissible parameters of treated effluent. The same was highlighted to the court. Instructing GPCB to “proceed further with necessary actions pursuant” to the showcause notice, the bench said, “when you appear on the next date, we will ask you what have you done.”
The court also recorded GPCB’s submission that it has decided to avail the technical services of CSIR- National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) to assess the situation with regard to the CETPs as part of its action plan.
“The GPCB has requested this institute to depute a team of experts at the earliest so as to inspect all the 7 CETPs at the earliest. We are informed that the institute will be charging around Rs 82 lakh for this work. We direct GPCB to immediately make the payment as asked for by the institute and request to depute its team at the earliest. Once the report of the institute with respect to all the 7 CETPs come on record, the picture will be clearer,” the bench recorded in its order.
The PIL has been posted for further hearing two weeks later, instructing aggrieved industrial units whose effluent connections have been disconnected by the AMC, “to deliberate further and find out a solution to the satisfaction of AMC”, on how the CETPs and effluent discharge from industries can be better managed.
At an earlier hearing, it was submitted by Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation that it was found that some industries are discharging effluent, containing mercury 347 times more than prescribed permissible limit. The court had last directed that the seven CETPs be added as parties to the litigation.
With counsels representing the CETPs appealing before the court on Friday, as well as counsels for industries where effluent connections have been disconnected by AMC seeking relief from the court on the ground that their connection was legal, the division bench of Justices JB Pardiwala and VD Nanavati also came down heavily on GPCB.
Justice Pardiwala during the course of hearing remarked, “It is this GPCB that kept on giving you (CETPs) a clean chit..they didn’t do anything because their duty to take appropriate steps at an appropriate time (was foregone)..When reports were being fabricated in the laboratories of AMC, they (GPCB) certified it.”
AMC, represented by senior counsel Mihir Joshi, submitted before the court that “AMC is very clear that it will not permit anyone to discharge its effluent into the sewage line”.
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