Three new cities — Surat, Rajkot and Vadodara — have been added to the list of Critically Polluted Areas (CPA) in Gujarat while Odhav, Naroda (in Ahmedabad), Bhavnagar and Junagadh have been removed from the list, stated the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) in a report tabled in the Gujarat Assembly, Thursday.
“Based on Comprehensive Environment Pollution Index (CEPI), the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had declared (January 2010) six major industrial areas of Gujarat — Vapi, Ankleshwar, Vatva, Ahmedabad (Odhav and Naroda), Bhavnagar and Junagadh — as CPA and imposed moratorium on setting up industries and expansion of existing industries in these areas,” stated the report titled “Performance Audit of Air Pollution Control by Government of Gujarat”.
“As per latest CEPI score submitted (July 2019) by Central Pollution Control Board to National Green Tribunal, three new cities Vadodara, Surat and Rajkot have been added to CPA list, while Odhav, Naroda, Bhavnagar and Junagadh were removed from the list,” it added.
The audit watchdog stated that CEPI scores of Vadodara was highest in state, followed by Surat. Rajkot turned critically polluted from being a severely polluted area in 2009.
Based on Remedial Action Plans proposed by the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB), approved by CPCB in September 2010 for the abatement of pollution in these CPAs, the ministry lifted the moratorium from Vapi (October 2010), Bhavnagar (February 2011), Junagadh (March 2011) and Ahmedabad (September 2013).
The moratorium was reimposed in Vapi in September 2013 due to poor CEPI scores. The ministry finally lifted the moratorium on Vapi, Ankleshwar and Vatva in November 2016 based on re-assessed CEPI scores.
The report stated that the GPCB was yet to comply with the 2016 directions of CPCB for installation of at least two Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Stations in each CPA.
The CAG also rapped GPCB for not developing a system for period review of health impact assessment in critically polluted areas. The audit pointed out that 15 hospitals in industrial areas of Ahmedabad, Vapi and Ankleshwar reported 80,443 patients with asthma, bronchitis and acute respiratory infections between 2012-2017.
“An increasing number of patients during this period depicts severity of the impact of air pollution on health,” the report stated.
While the Gujarat government claimed that health impact assessment in CPAs were done by industries associations, the auditor stated, “Such studies were to be conducted by the GPCB through recognised health institutions once in 4-5 years…”
The report also pointed out that under the National Clean Air Programme launched in January 2019, MoEF&CC had identified 102 cities as “non-attainment” cities that failed to meet the prescribed standards of air pollution.
“Ahmedabad and Surat were among the non-attainment cities in Gujarat,” CAG stated adding that industries, vehicles, domestic fuel, construction and road dust were prominent sources of emission in these two cities.