Contamination of groundwater in Gujarat villages continues unabated for decades

Written by SabrangIndia | Published on: March 22, 2019

A report on the groundwater pollution in Luna village accessed by an environment NGO has once again pointed to the alarming rate of groundwater contamination in the industrial belt in Padra, Vadodara. The issue at hand seems to be a consistent problem for over decades and yet, nothing is being done about the contamination.



Image Courtesy: DNA

Vadodara: All is not well in the ‘vegetable bowl’ of Gujarat. A report on the groundwater pollution in Luna village accessed by an environment NGO has once again pointed to the alarming rate of groundwater contamination in the industrial belt in Padra, Vadodara. The issue at hand seems to be a consistent problem for over decades and yet, nothing is being done about the contamination.
 
According to Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS), the groundwater pollution in Luna has reached alarming levels as it has crossed even the limit of discharge norms of industrial effluent. The permitted limit of industrial effluent discharge is 250 mg/litre chemical oxygen demand (COD) whereas the COD level of groundwater at Luna is ten times higher, in the range of 2,225 to 2,722. This, they say, is the highest COD level reported in groundwater from anywhere in the country, so far.
 
Activists have been calling it a terrorist attack on the region's groundwater.
 
The report was a result of a joint investigation carried out by the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB), Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS), Farmers Action Group (FAG) and affected farmers in October and December 2018.
 
It further found that the TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) was 10172 mg/l and 11188 mg/l while the BOD (Biological Oxygen Demand) was 198 mg/l and 72 mg/l (26.12.2018) respectively for the two months. The accepted limit of TDS and BOD even in treated effluent water is 5000 mg/I and 100 mg/I. In groundwater, the accepted limit for TDS and BOD is 300mg/I and 2 mg/I respectively.
 
Rohit Prajapati of Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti said that the issue was first raised in the year 1999.
 
"A ruling of the Supreme Court had clearly stated that polluting industries that fail to meet effluent norms had to be shut down. But nothing of that sort has happened. The report that we accessed through RTI shows what inaction by the concerned authorities have done to the groundwater on which the farmers and locals are dependent," said Prajapati.
 
16 of the 21 groundwater samples taken by officials of the state government's environmental watchdog Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) in two villages of Vadodara district were found to be highly contaminated. They were found to be discharging reddish, brownish and yellowish water.
 
Vadodara-based environmental body, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) wrote a letter to the Prime Minister of India; Gujarat  chief minister; secretary, Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change; chairman, Central Pollution Control Board; Gujarat chief secretary; additional chief secretary, Gujarat Forest and Environment Department; senior officials of the Gujarat Pollution Control Board and the Vadodara district collector. They wrote to them to draw their attention towards the “dangerously very high COD” (Chemical Oxygen Demand) levels in the groundwater in villages in Gujarat and how the contamination has continued unabated for decades.
 
Full text of letter:
 
This is to draw your attention to the findings of reports that we availed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005 on 11.03.2019, to take action in view of Dangerously Very High COD (Chemical Oxygen Demand) levels observed in ground water in village Luna, Padra Taluka, Vadodara District.
 
The levels were determined as an outcome of a joint investigation carried out by Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB), Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS), Farmers Action Group (FAG) and affected farmers in October and December 2018.
 
The evidences in the October and December 2018 investigation (click Annexure) reports evidence/ ascertain alarming levels of groundwater pollution crossing even the limit of industrial effluent discharge norms.
 
The groundwater of the village Luna, Padra Taluka, Vadodara District have COD (Chemical Oxygen Demand) 2225 mg/l (16.10.2018) & 2722 mg/l (26.12.2018), TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) 10172 mg/l (16.10.2018) & 11188 mg/l (26.12.2018), Biological Oxygen Demand) 198 mg/l (16.10.2018) & 72 mg/l (26.12.2018). It is pertinent to note that the COD of the groundwater has even crossed the acceptable or permitted limits of the industrial effluent discharge which is  250 mg/l COD. The following table is self-explanatory and invites exemplary action against the defaulting industries and the main concerned officials who have failed in preventing the pollution and allowing it to reach this disastrous situation in spite of repeated complaints by us and the villagers.


[Table]
 
PSS, FAG and the villagers have petitioned since 1999 against the polluting industries, the non-compliance of Supreme Court Order, dated 22.02.2017, and also the continual neglect by concerned authorities in taking stringent legal actions against the errant companies who blatantly discharge untreated chemical effluent with impunity.
 
Following are some of the main reports, documents, letters which were also part of the case filed by Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) and Farmers Action Group (FAG) in Supreme Court, Writ Petition (Civil) No. 375 of 2012:
 
1. February 1999: The investigation into the water, air and land pollution by Indian People’s Tribunal (IPT) constituted by Voluntary organisations showing massive pollution in the “Golden Corridor of Gujarat” – Vapi to Vadodara.
2. April 2002: Investigation by GEC (Gujarat Ecology Commission) found that groundwater in 74 out of 184 talukas were severely contaminated.
 
The report of the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee, dated April 2004. The relevant parts of the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee report of 2004 are as under:
 
“The Committee feels that unless this Hon’ble Court directs the State Governments of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat to immediately step in and supply fresh water in tankers or in pipes, for drinking and also for agricultural purposes, the present situation is bound to continue for several more years since de-toxification of the contaminated groundwater resources strongly recommended by this Committee, will take a few years.  Therefore, Hon’ble Court may consider to issue appropriate directions to the State Governments of Madhya Pradesh & Gujarat to take following steps:
(ii) The State Government of MP and Gujarat be directed to supply water to the affected communities through tankers on a daily basis at the cost of the Government and the concerned industry associations.
(iii) Within 6 months, the Government should release permanent water connections through pipes for drinking purpose and some appropriate arrangement for irrigation purposes so that the dependence on tankers is removed.
(v) The status report of contamination of water be prepared and based on that, action plan for decontamination of ground water also be made within a reasonable time frame.
For the above, the Committee will be grateful to the Hon’ble Court.”
 
Based on this report Supreme Court of India in Writ Petition (Civil) No. 695 of 1995 Order, dated 07.05.2004, is as under:
 
“We have perused the Second Quarterly Report from February, 2004 to April, 2004 filed by the Monitoring Committee to oversee the implementation of directions passed in the writ petition. The report records that due to indiscriminate dumping of hazardous waste due to non-existent or negligent practices together with lack of enforcement by authorities, the ground water and, therefore, drinking water supplies have been affected/damaged. The state Government of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat are directed to take steps to supply fresh drinking water in tanks or pipes, particularly, taking into consideration; the fact that summer season has already set in. It shall be done expeditiously.
 
Industrial estates of Vapi, Ankleshwar, and Vadodara in the state of Gujarat and Union Carbide Plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh were inspected by the Committee. The two State Governments would ensure supply of water in such villages/areas which are affected, list whereof has already given by learned counsel for the petitioner to learned counsel appearing for the two States.”
 
3. April 2008: CPCB released “Report on Effluent Conveyance System (M/s ECPL for Nandesari Industrial Area and Industries Located near Vadodara, Gujarat” highlighting the grim situation due to the industrial pollution in the area.
 
4. 12.05.2010: Referring to the February 2010 Effluent Conveyance System report of CPCB the PSS wrote a letter to the then Minister of State for Environment and Forests demanding that GPCB should not issue any new no-objection certificate (NOC) / NOC for expansion / Consolidated Consents and Authorization (CCA) application for Vadodara District since Effluent Channel Project were not able to meet the applicable norms and standards.
 
5. 27.01.2011 and 24.02.2011: The Collector of Vadodara was left with no choice but to order GPCB to prepare a status report of the condition of groundwater in Luna village. The report, based on investigations conducted on 27.01.2011 and 24.02.2011, was prepared by GPCB with the involvement of the community and the local elected body. This report is equally shocking; barring one bore well, all 33 bore wells were found to have colored and contaminated water. Eleven bore wells, which were sealed due to contamination, were not investigated. One bore well, whose water was not colored at the time of the report writing, was soon after found to be colored.
 
6. 05.05.2011: Effluent Channel Project Ltd. (ECPL) informed GPCB vide its letter that certain non-member industries of ECPL having a Zero Discharge Status were disposing their untreated wastewater through Reverse Boring. ECPL also informed that it had been regularly submitting monthly reports relating to violations of inlet norms to GPCB.
 
7. September 2011: The Institute of Seismological Research, Department of Science and Technology, Government of Gujarat, Gandhinagar, submitted a report regarding groundwater pollution in Vadodara, exposing the extent of damage to groundwater due to the industrial pollution in Luna village. The relevant extracts are set out herein below:
 
“The Baroda Textile Effects Pvt. Ltd factory manufactures dyes and colors. The team members of ISR visited the TSDF waste disposal site of the factory that is designed by N.P.C New Delhi. It has a total area of 14000 m2 and depth of approximately 7m from the surface with a capacity of 80,000 m3. It was constructed during March 1997 with projected life of 6 years, i.e. until 2003. The purpose of the storage tank was to dump the hazardous waste generated from the industrial process. Disposal of the hazardous waste up to June 2011 is 97046 M tonnes. Not only the Industry kept on using the tank beyond its life, it raised the height of the tank by further 3 m above the ground level in 2006 to dump 50 % more waste than the capacity. Due to additional overload of dump and overage, some cracks have developed on the sidewalls of the tank. Some ground cracks are seen around the Tank. The disposal tank is open to sky and the solid waste in fine powder form becomes liquid due to rains…
 
On visual examination, we found that the walls of the disposal tank are badly cracked. The tank was constructed in 1997 and its life was 6 years. The disposal tank has been used much beyond its life. Moreover, initially, the disposal tank walls were up to the ground level only. The walls were raised above the ground by three meter to increase the capacity by 42 %. The tank walls were found to be badly cracked from which leakage of chemical waste is possible. Ground cracks were also observed near the tank.”
 
8. 14.05.2012: Villagers of Luna, District Vadodara wrote a letter to the Chairman and CEO of Huntsman International India (P) Ltd. demanding immediate action to address the contamination of groundwater of Luna Village due to crack in the western wall of Treatment, Storage and Disposal Facility (TSDF) of their company Baroda Textile Effects Pvt. Ltd.
 
9. 22.05.2012: FAG wrote a letter to the Chief Minister and GPCB highlighting the grim situation of Effluent Channel Project (ECP) of Vadodara and demanded that immediate steps be taken to remedy the situation before it goes out of hand.
 
10. 28.05.2012: FAG wrote a letter to MoEFCC and CPCB expressing concern over the adverse effect on their agriculture due to seepage in ECP and demanded that the authorities should stop the use of ECP for conveying industrial effluent to the sea, and make alternative arrangements for disposal of effluent.
 
11. May 2013: ‘A REPORT ON GROUNDWATER POLLUTION IN PADRA TALUKA, DIST: VADODARA, GUJARAT” by the Central Pollution Control Board – in its recommendations clearly states:
 
  • Comply with CCA conditions particularly for non-compliance of prescribed discharged norms.
  • Expedite the establishment of disposal point into the Sea i.e. the Gulf of Cambay suggested by NIO.
  • Take strict actions against the defaulter industries.
  •  
That the report further recommended:
  • Concerned departments may address the grievances of villagers regarding drinking water supply to these villages.
  • Groundwater remediation work should be carried out immediately.
  • Fresh water from Narmada canal may be provided to affected farmers for irrigation.
  • Further industrial expansions and/or new chemical industries may not be encouraged in the area.”
  •  
12. 14.02.2014: Report by the GPCB regarding illegal hazardous waste dumping below ground inside the factory premises of (Previously known as Metrochem Industries Limited, then Baroda Textile Effects Private Limited) Huntsman International India (P) Ltd. clearly states:
 
“Crux of visit of Baroda Textile Effects P. Ltd:
 
This unit is visited under Hazardous Waste Rules under Instructions from HO. The unit has capped their landfill site and all the provided extraction wells (seven of which three are containment wells) have started operations. The water extracted is treated in their Ground Water treatment system and then reused in the plant for washing purposes. Following this, the company started further investigations to find out the cause behind the color in the groundwater. After extensive preliminary studies, they dug up the portion of land at the old gypsum storage yard in Phase I of their operations. They dug upto a depth of 3.8 mtrs and covered an area of 1782 m2 in the first phase. The quantity of gypsum+contaminated soil excavated in the first phase was 3784 MT, of which, 1205 MT gypsum was sent to the cement industry and 2579 MT contaminated soil was disposed at an external TSDF. In the 2nd phase of their operations, they dug upto a depth of 3.6 mtrs covering an area of 1150 m2 at the old gypsum storage yard. The quantity of gypsum+contaminated soil excavated in the second phase was 3836 MT, of which, 877 MT gypsum was sent to the cement industry and 2959 MT contaminated soil was disposed at an external TSDF. The land at first phase has been lined and concreted with facility for runoff collection (photo). The land at phase 2 is being converted into a garden (photo). In phase 3 of the operations, being carried out at the area behind the H-Acid Warehouse, they have already dug upto a depth of 1.8mtrs covering an area of 810m2 and excavated 1346MT of gypsum+contaminated soil, of which, 257 MT gypsum has been sent to the cement industry and 1389MT contaminated soil was disposed at an external TSDF. The industry came across RCC flooring at 1.6mtrs depth below GL (photo). At the time of visit of phase 3 operations, it is observed that the entire gypsum sludge has been lifted from site and at a depth of 1.6 mtrs (photo). They have come across blackish waste, which is powdery in nature (photo). The wall enclosing the compound has gypsum sludge stuck on it (photo). A JCB is called and the RCC flooring is dug up (photo). It is observed that the same blackish colored waste is present under the RCC also (Photo). The JCB digs further to reach fresh soil at a depth of further 1.8-2 mtrs. This shows that the entire RCC area, which is found at a depth of 1.6mtrs, conceals the blackish colored sludge (probably iron waste) underneath upto a depth of 1.8 mtrs (photo). The JCB also digs horizontally to expose the brickwork of area under the cooling tower of CPP (Photo) and the same blackish waste is recovered, but in wet form (photo). Similarly, the flooring of filter house area beside the H-Acid warehouse also shows a gap between the flooring and the consolidated soil beneath (photo). On further examination, it is observed that hazardous waste (probably gypsum sludge is buried beneath the filter press section also). A bright yellow colored waste is also recovered from the excavated portion in some areas (photo).
 
When the sludge excavated is added to water, it gives the same color as the water found in the nearby borewells (photo). In addition to the sludge, the excavation also unearthed, filter cloth, tank, etc.  The various Samples collected are as follows : (1) Black colored wet solid sample collected from excavated portion below the boundary wall of cooling tower of CPP (2) Yellowish white colored sample collected from excavated portion below the boundary wall of cooling tower of CPP (3) Blackish colored sample collected from excavated land opposite boundary wall of cooling tower of CPP (4) Blackish powdery sample collected from below RCC slab, (found 1.6m below GL) near warehouse of H-Acid plant. (5) Blackish contaminated soil found about 1.8mtrs below RCC slab (which is already 1.8 mtrs below GL) in phase 3 of the excavation (6) Yellowish colored sample collected from hazardous waste stuck to the boundary wall of filter house area of H-Acid plant. (7) Bright yellow colored sample collected from excavated area of phase 3. Videography of the entire procedure has been carried out.”
 
13. February 2016: “Ground Water Pollution In Luna, Dudhawada, Piludara Area Near Vadodara, Gujarat”, July 2016, provides sufficient evidence to take the immediate action. The report also recommends immediate, short-term, and long-term remedial measures.


14. 16.10.2018: Status of Groundwater joint investigation done by GPCB, FAG, and PSS,
15. 26.12.2018: Status of Groundwater joint investigation done by GPCB, FAG, PSS, affected Farmers and Huntsman International India (P) Ltd. highlighted high COD 2225 – 2959 in the Abstraction Well 1 and 2 of the Huntsman inside the factory premises next to the Landfill Site.
 
There have been several such letters written by PSS, FAG and repeated investigations conducted by the Central Pollution Control Board, Gujarat Pollution Control Board, and various agencies appointed by the concerned authorities. These efforts and track records clearly demonstrate that the groundwater of villages around the ECP area is critically contaminated and needs immediate intervention, by the concerned authorities to stop further pollution of any kind and to implement well-devised short-term and long-term plans to remediate the groundwater of the area.
 
Further, a number of meetings were organised in the presence of the Member Secretary of the GPCB, the representatives of the industries of the ECP area, and representatives of affected villages and voluntary organisations working in this area on environmental concerns. In these meetings, there was no dispute about contamination of groundwater and spreading of contamination in the area. There is acknowledgement and agreement that the ECP channel and a number of industries along the ECP channel are responsible for this dangerous level of contamination of groundwater.
 
Since the year 2000, we have been communicating about the issue and about the non-compliance of ‘Effluent Channel Project’ (ECP) of ‘Vadodara Enviro Channel Limited’, with the concerned authorities. This is now a publicly well-known fact. There has been no-response from the authorities in terms of definitive actions on ground and our continuous appeals have been responded with undeniable display of their nonchalance and lack of commitment to the environment and law of the land.
 
Similarly, it is expected that the Governments and State ought to implement, in letter and spirit, the Supreme Court Order, dated 22.02.2017, of Writ Petition (Civil) No. 375 of 2012 and National Green Tribunal, Principal Bench, Order dated 03.08.2018 and 19.02.2019, in Original Application No. 593 of 2017.
 
The Order, dated 22.02.2017, of the Supreme Court in Writ Petition (Civil) No. 375 of 2012 (Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti & Anrs V/s Union of India & Ors) clearly states:
 
“14. […] The concerned Pollution Control Board is also hereby directed, to initiate such civil or criminal action, as may be permissible in law, against all or any of the defaulters.”
Even the Environment Laws are also very clear. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 clearly states:
 
“17. FUNCTIONS OF STATE BOARD
 
(1) Subject to the provisions of this Act, the functions of a State Board shall be —
(a) to plan a comprehensive programme for the prevention, control or abatement of pollution of streams and wells in the State and to secure the execution thereof;”
The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 clearly states:
 
“15. PENALTY FOR CONTRAVENTION OF THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT AND THE RULES, ORDERS AND DIRECTIONS
 
(1) Whoever fails to comply with or contravenes any of the provisions of this Act, or the rules made or orders or directions issued thereunder, shall, in respect of each such failure or contravention, be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees, or with both, and in case the failure or contravention continues, with additional fine which may extend to five thousand rupees for every day during which such failure or contravention continues after the conviction for the first such failure or contravention.
 
(2) If the failure or contravention referred to in sub-section (1) continues beyond a period of one year after the date of conviction, the offender shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term, which may extend to seven years.
 

17. OFFENCES BY GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS

(1) Where an offence under this Act has been committed by any Department of Government, the Head of the Department shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.
 
Provided that nothing contained in this section shall render such Head of the Department liable to any punishment if he proves that the offence was committed without his knowledge or that he exercise all due diligence to prevent the commission of such offence.
 
(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), where an offence under this Act has been committed by a Department of Government and it is proved that the offence has been committed with the consent or connivance of, or is attributable to any neglect on the part of, any officer, other than the Head of the Department, such officer shall also be deemed to be guilty of that offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.”
 
In such circumstances, we call for the Secretary, MoEFCC, the Chief Secretary, Gujarat State and the Chairman & Member Secretary of the GPCB to enlighten us as to what led to contamination of groundwater at such an irreversible level. The track record and evidences clearly demonstrate the failure of the Chief Secretary, the Additional Chief Secretary of Forest and Environment Department of Gujarat State, the Chairman of GPCB, the Collector of Vadodara District, who are and were holding the posts from 2000 – 2019. They have failed in their duties and responsibilities to act against the polluting industries inspite of repeated complaints and representations by the villagers and us.
 
We are extremely disturbed that the Secretary, MoEFCC; the Chief Secretary, Gujarat State; and the Chairman & Member Secretary of the GPCB are openly allowing the VECL to consistently and admittedly violate environment laws. They are also turning a blind eye to the known and admitted violation of the Order, dated 22.02.2017, of the Supreme Court in Writ Petition (Civil) No. 375 of 2012 (Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti & Anrs V/s Union of India & Ors) and National Green Tribunal, Principal Bench, Delhi Order, dated 03.08.2018, and 19.02.2019, in Original Application No. 593 of 2017, (Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti & Anrs V/s Union of India & Ors). This is nothing but Contempt of the Supreme Court’s Order.
 
The CC&A, dated 06.01.2015, clearly mentions, “10. VECL have only one outlet for the discharge of its effluent and no effluent shall be discharged without requisite treatment & without meeting with the GPCB norms.” There are many more such terms and condition mentioned in the said CC&A but the concerned authorities have failed to look into the compliance of these crucial terms and condition of CC&A.
 
Your inaction gives a clear indication that you all, as concerned authorities, are not only well aware of these facts, but you also have taken conscious decisions to illegally allow such consistently blatant, admitted, and undisputed violations of environment laws of the land and Supreme Court Order, dated 22.02.2017, in Writ Petition (Civil) No. 375 of 2012.
 
It is utterly shocking to put on record that the entire stretches of the pipeline, laid inside the existing old brick-and-mortar Effluent Channel, was installed whilst effluent was continuously flowing in Effluent Channel of VECL. It is noticed during our visit with the GPCB and VECL officials that the newly installed pipeline along Luna-Ekalbara is leaking. Two pipeline stretches, one installed at Luna-Ekalbara, and another one-year-old pipeline installed along part of Karakhdi-Hathiapura, were inspected by the Regional Officer and the Vigilance Officers of GPCB, and officers of VECL in the presence of the affected people. A detailed letter, dated 14.06.2018, 30.06.2018, 09.11.2018, 15.11.2018, 03.12.2018, 28.01.2019, 04.02.2019, and 04.03.2019 with videos and photographs were sent to you all by the FAG. This clearly indicates that the groundwater contamination is continuing due to leakage of pipeline at various places.
 
Neither the GPCB nor the industrialists have denied that the groundwater is severely contaminated, that the contamination is spreading in different areas, and it has reached irreversible/ irreparable levels because of incessant industrial activities.
 
There are a number of farmers who had been practicing organic farming (i.e. farming without the use of chemical pesticides and chemical fertilizers) but because of the groundwater pollution, they are not in the position to claim their agriculture produce as organic. Further, animals used for animal husbandry are forced to drink this contaminated water and eat the fodder, which is grown using contaminated groundwater.
 
The farmers who are affected by groundwater contamination and pollution have not been compensated in terms of money or in kind, in spite of the fact that nobody disputes the fact that the problem of contamination of groundwater and air pollution is because of the polluting industries located around the villages and area vis-à-vis the ECP.
 
As far as industrial clusters around ECP are concerned, they are located in the vegetable basket of Gujarat, on fertile land, which is prima facie contradictory and illegal. Majority of the industries located in this cluster do not even have the required buffer zone as per the stipulated condition in the Environment clearance. The main purpose of the buffer zone is to avert the effect of negative impact of pollution on the surrounding residential rural area. No action has been taken against these defaulting industries even after repeated letters about the violation.
 
Keeping in mind the above alarming facts and undisputed realities by CPCB, GPCB, Vadodara Enviro Channel Limited, the industries located in this area, we can surely declare this grave situation as a “Chemical Emergency”. In order to reduce further harm to the people and environment, the following immediate steps must be taken by the concerned authorities:
 
  • File a criminal case against all the industries around ECP demanding exemplary action against their main personnel for contamination of groundwater till they prove that they are not responsible for contamination of groundwater and the case should be heard in the Special Court on a  day to day basis.
  • File a criminal case against the Chief Secretary, the Additional Chief Secretary of Forest and Environment Department of Gujarat State, the Chairman of GPCB, the Collector(s) of Vadodara District who are and were holding the post from 2000 – 2019, for their failing in their duty, inspite of repeated complaints, in preventing the contamination of groundwater at irreversible level.
  • Take exemplary action against all the industries that has not provided the stipulated and required buffer zone around their industries.
  • Take exemplary action, including cancellation of “Consent to Operate’ (CTO) and ‘Environment Clearance’ (EC), against all the defaulting polluting industries located in Nandesari Industrial Estate, Vadodara Industrial Complex, and ‘ECP industrial Cluster’.
  • Cancel the ‘Consolidated Consent and Authorization’ (CC&A) of ‘Vadodara Enviro Channel Limited’.
  • Immediately implement the direction of closure notice dated 13.12.2018 given to the ‘Vadodara Enviro Channel Limited’ instead giving them the extension for the implementation of the closer order.
  • Initiate criminal case against the all concerned and responsible officers of ‘Vadodara Enviro Channel Limited’ and defaulting industries.
  • Monitor, using latest flow meters, the use and misuse of groundwater by the industries from their premises and check the tankers, which are coming from a faraway distance.
  • Allow the use of present remaining sources of clean water, outside the industries, by the farmers and villagers of the affected areas for drinking and agricultural purposes only and not for any commercial or industrial use.
  • Ensure Ad-hoc Exemplary Monetary Compensation along with medical services to the farmers and villagers who have suffered from the groundwater pollution. This should collectively be decided by CPCB, GPCB, affected farmers, and the representatives of the Voluntary Organisation working in this area on the basis of monthly instalments per contaminated well until decontamination of well is done by way of short-term and long-term remedial measures, including but not limited to technically and scientifically sound holistic nature restoration of polluted and damaged land and water areas based on the “Polluter Pays Principle”.
  • Immediately pay lump sum Ad-hoc Compensation of Rs. 2 Lakhs per well/bore well whose waters are contaminated since last 3 years, Rs. 5 Lakhs per well/borewell whose waters are contaminated since 3 – 5 years and Rs. 10 Lakhs per well/borewell whose waters are contaminated more than 5 years. Pay lump sum ad-hoc compensation of Rs. 15,000 per month per well/borewell until decontamination of the groundwater is achieved and real actual compensation is paid to them.
  • Immediately pay per day per animal, the value of milk yield, to the farmers engaged in animal husbandry and are having affected buffalos, cows, and other animals that are drinking contaminated groundwater and/or their fodder is grown using contaminated groundwater.
  • Immediately pay Ad-hoc Compensation per season per acre to the farmers who are forced to use contaminated groundwater for irrigation of agricultural land and hence are facing several severe problems.
  • Appoint a competent committee to assess the ongoing and past damages to quantify the real compensation payable to the farmers for the damage done.
  • Appoint a team of experts to determine and monitor the groundwater levels and quality of water on a periodic basis.
  • Devise short-term and long-term plans for remedial measures to decontaminate and remediate the groundwater based on the “Polluter Pays Principle”.
  • Declare a ‘Chemical Emergency’ in the ‘ECP Industrial Cluster’ and include ECP area as a Critically Polluted Area.
  • Impose an immediate moratorium on expansion of existing industries and for new industries in this area.
  • Devise an option of shifting of known polluting industries from this area in the interest of life, livelihood and environment of the area. These efforts must ensure regenerative design principles, follows all environment related laws in letter and spirit, and not just shift the same type of conventional industrial activities to other areas.
  • Implement the Order, dated 22.02.2017, of the Supreme Court in Writ Petition (Civil) No. 375 of 2012 (Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti & Anrs V/s Union of India & Ors) and National Green Tribunal, Principal Bench, Delhi Order, dated 03.08.2018 and 19.02.2019, in Original Application No. 593 of 2017, (Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti & Anrs V/s Union of India & Ors) in letter and spirit.
  • Appoint a high level committee of the MoEF&CC, CPCB, GPCB, local state authority, representatives of affected villagers and the representatives of the voluntary organisations working in this area on environment and independent expertise to help design, monitor, and evaluate all these works carried out in the area, on a daily basis.
 
We expect your prompt and positive response in the interest of life, livelihoods, and environment in the affected areas.
 
If you do not act now, your inaction shall be considered as Contempt of the Court of the Hon’ble Supreme Court order, dated 22.02.2017, in our PIL – Writ Petition (Civil) 375 of 2012 and may / will result in suitable further action on our part.
 
Signatories: Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant and Swati Desai