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Environment India

VECL consistently flouting environmental laws: Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti

The NGO has said that Vadodara Enviro Channel Limited has been dumping chemical rich wastewater which exceeds prescribed norms by the pollution control boards

Sabrangindia 09 Jun 2020

Vadodara Enviro Channel Limited

For yet another time, activists Rohit Prajapati and Krishnakant associated with the environmental NGO Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) have approached government authorities over Vadodara Enviro Channel Limited (VECL) polluting all environmental laws. VECL has been in the limelight since its inception for flouting all pollution control norms. While activists have cried hoarse over the years about the damage to the environment and life of farmers in the area, their pleas seem to have fallen on deaf years.

Once again on June 1, 2020, both the activists have written to top officials in the environment ministry, and the Central and Gujarat Pollution Control Boards about the shocking violations at the J Point, the Effluent Channel of VECL which has consistently not been meeting Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) prescribed norms.

VECL is in the business of conveying treated wastewater for more than 250 industrial units in and around Vadodara into the Gulf of Khambhat (Cambay). The J point falls near Sarod village where treated effluent is discharged in the estuarine region of the Mahi River. The effluent carrying pipeline is 55.30 km long and starts from Dhanora in the Nandesari Industrial Area picking effluents from industries which produce chemicals, pharmaceuticals, pesticides and dyes.

A consistent study of the wastewater discharged shows that prescribed norms have continuously been violated. In a sample collected on October 12, Prajapati had told The Times of India that the Chemical Oxygen Demand was 1214 mg/l instead of the permissible 250 mg/l. In a sample taken on September 6, 2019, the COD at J Point was 1976 mg/l. On August 13, 2019, the COD was 1078 mg/l.

In their previous letters, Prajapati and Krishnakant have pointed out how the number of samples, with the last being taken on May 28, 2020 at the J-point continue to exceed prescribed norms. According to the latest samples taken in May 2020, the Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) at ‘J Point’ is 1065 mg/l (Norm: 250 mg/l), Chloride 7497 mg/l (Norms 600 mg/l), Sulfate 1473 mg/l (Norms 100 mg/l), and Ammoniacal Nitrogen (NH3-N) 232.96 mg/l (Norms 50 mg/l).

Not only this, the activists also point out that their investigations from July 31, 2019 have shown that the VECL pipeline continued to leak at many points. The same was shown to officials of GPCB Vadodara on May 26 and June 1, 2020. In a letter dated August 16, 2019 carried by Counterview, the activists had revealed that the monsoon rains in August that year had exposed the leakage of the pipeline in the last stretch of the Effluent Carrying Pipeline (ECP). It was reported that the carelessness by VECL had led to the filling up of two ponds at the Nodhana village with industrial effluent and the effluent had also entered into the agricultural land of the villages of Uber, Valipur, Nodhana, Samoj and Sarod villages. Keeping in mind how investigations point out that water along the ECP is severely contaminated, the activists say that the authorities must demarcate such areas and devise short-term and long-term plans to remediate surface water as well as the groundwater of the area.

Presently writing to the officials, the activists say that VECL and concerned authorities are violating Supreme Court and orders by the National Green Tribunal. They also say that though they have been writing about the non-compliance of the ‘Effluent Channel Project’ of VECL consistently, no action has been taken on ground. In their letter they say, “The Consolidated Consent and Authorization (CC&A), dated 06.01.2015, of VECL clearly mentions, “Condition 10. VECL shall 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 conditions of CC&A kept at 4.1, 4.2, 8, 9, 11, 13, 16, 17, 19, 21, 27, 28, 29, 30, 34, 36, 37, 39, 41, & 43 but the concerned authorities have failed to look into the compliance of these crucial terms and conditions of CC&A.”

They also say that neither the GPCB nor the industrialists have denied that the groundwater is contaminated, with the contamination spreading in various areas and has now reached irreversible / irreparable levels because of incessant industrial activities. Organic farmers can no longer practice organic farming due to groundwater pollution and other small farmers have no choice but to use this contaminated water for drinking and farming; thus putting the health of the overall area at stake. The affected farmers have not been compensated in any way – money or kind.

Prajapati and Krishnakant say this keeping these realities in mind and the audacity of the officials, the situated can be declared as a major ‘Chemical Emergency’.

They have listed the below actions to the officials that need to be taken immediately.

ACTION BELOW NEEDS TO TAKEN BE IMMEDIATELY

1. Declare a ‘Chemical Emergency’ in the ‘ECP Industrial Cluster’ and include ECP area as a Critically Polluted Area.

2. Appoint a team of experts to determine and monitor the quality of surface water and land as well as the groundwater and their levels on a periodic basis.

3. Devise short-term and long-term plans for remedial measures to decontaminate and remediate / restore the surface water and land as well as the groundwater levels and quality based on the “Polluter Pays Principle”.

4. Impose an immediate moratorium on expansion of the existing industries and for any new industries in this area.

5. Devise an option of shifting of known polluting industries from this area in the interest of life, livelihood, and environment of the area.

6. 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.

7. Take exemplary action, against all the defaulting polluting industries located in Nandesari Industrial Estate, Vadodara Industrial Complex, and the ‘ECP industrial Cluster’.

8. Initiate criminal case against all the concerned and responsible officers of VECL and defaulting industries.

9. Implement at the earliest, the Order of the Supreme Court and NGT.

10. Appoint a high level committee of the MOEF&CC, CPCB, GPCB, local state authority, representatives of the affected villagers and the representatives of the voluntary organizations working in this area on environment and independent expertise to help design, monitor and evaluate all these works carried out in the area and submit its reports to the concerned authorities and the local people affected by the pollution and contamination, on a regular basis.

After continued complaints by the PSS on December 13 2018, the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) had issued VECL a closure notice for not complying with water quality norms and stated that if corrective measures were not taken by VECL within 30 days, it would be forced to implement closure. VECL had then moved the Gujarat High court against this notice. However, even after all these efforts by PSS and the orders by the NGT and Supreme Court, VECL was given four extensions by the GPCB even though the CC&A license had expired. GPCB cited that the extensions were given on the basis of reports saying they were trying to address the issue, reported DNA.

The latest letter by PSS may be read below.

 

Related:

Assam gas -well blowout: 11 days on, threat to humans and animals remains high

Vapi Industries Association wants Gujarat Pollution Board to relax environmental clearance norms

VECL consistently flouting environmental laws: Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti

The NGO has said that Vadodara Enviro Channel Limited has been dumping chemical rich wastewater which exceeds prescribed norms by the pollution control boards

Vadodara Enviro Channel Limited

For yet another time, activists Rohit Prajapati and Krishnakant associated with the environmental NGO Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) have approached government authorities over Vadodara Enviro Channel Limited (VECL) polluting all environmental laws. VECL has been in the limelight since its inception for flouting all pollution control norms. While activists have cried hoarse over the years about the damage to the environment and life of farmers in the area, their pleas seem to have fallen on deaf years.

Once again on June 1, 2020, both the activists have written to top officials in the environment ministry, and the Central and Gujarat Pollution Control Boards about the shocking violations at the J Point, the Effluent Channel of VECL which has consistently not been meeting Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) prescribed norms.

VECL is in the business of conveying treated wastewater for more than 250 industrial units in and around Vadodara into the Gulf of Khambhat (Cambay). The J point falls near Sarod village where treated effluent is discharged in the estuarine region of the Mahi River. The effluent carrying pipeline is 55.30 km long and starts from Dhanora in the Nandesari Industrial Area picking effluents from industries which produce chemicals, pharmaceuticals, pesticides and dyes.

A consistent study of the wastewater discharged shows that prescribed norms have continuously been violated. In a sample collected on October 12, Prajapati had told The Times of India that the Chemical Oxygen Demand was 1214 mg/l instead of the permissible 250 mg/l. In a sample taken on September 6, 2019, the COD at J Point was 1976 mg/l. On August 13, 2019, the COD was 1078 mg/l.

In their previous letters, Prajapati and Krishnakant have pointed out how the number of samples, with the last being taken on May 28, 2020 at the J-point continue to exceed prescribed norms. According to the latest samples taken in May 2020, the Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) at ‘J Point’ is 1065 mg/l (Norm: 250 mg/l), Chloride 7497 mg/l (Norms 600 mg/l), Sulfate 1473 mg/l (Norms 100 mg/l), and Ammoniacal Nitrogen (NH3-N) 232.96 mg/l (Norms 50 mg/l).

Not only this, the activists also point out that their investigations from July 31, 2019 have shown that the VECL pipeline continued to leak at many points. The same was shown to officials of GPCB Vadodara on May 26 and June 1, 2020. In a letter dated August 16, 2019 carried by Counterview, the activists had revealed that the monsoon rains in August that year had exposed the leakage of the pipeline in the last stretch of the Effluent Carrying Pipeline (ECP). It was reported that the carelessness by VECL had led to the filling up of two ponds at the Nodhana village with industrial effluent and the effluent had also entered into the agricultural land of the villages of Uber, Valipur, Nodhana, Samoj and Sarod villages. Keeping in mind how investigations point out that water along the ECP is severely contaminated, the activists say that the authorities must demarcate such areas and devise short-term and long-term plans to remediate surface water as well as the groundwater of the area.

Presently writing to the officials, the activists say that VECL and concerned authorities are violating Supreme Court and orders by the National Green Tribunal. They also say that though they have been writing about the non-compliance of the ‘Effluent Channel Project’ of VECL consistently, no action has been taken on ground. In their letter they say, “The Consolidated Consent and Authorization (CC&A), dated 06.01.2015, of VECL clearly mentions, “Condition 10. VECL shall 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 conditions of CC&A kept at 4.1, 4.2, 8, 9, 11, 13, 16, 17, 19, 21, 27, 28, 29, 30, 34, 36, 37, 39, 41, & 43 but the concerned authorities have failed to look into the compliance of these crucial terms and conditions of CC&A.”

They also say that neither the GPCB nor the industrialists have denied that the groundwater is contaminated, with the contamination spreading in various areas and has now reached irreversible / irreparable levels because of incessant industrial activities. Organic farmers can no longer practice organic farming due to groundwater pollution and other small farmers have no choice but to use this contaminated water for drinking and farming; thus putting the health of the overall area at stake. The affected farmers have not been compensated in any way – money or kind.

Prajapati and Krishnakant say this keeping these realities in mind and the audacity of the officials, the situated can be declared as a major ‘Chemical Emergency’.

They have listed the below actions to the officials that need to be taken immediately.

ACTION BELOW NEEDS TO TAKEN BE IMMEDIATELY

1. Declare a ‘Chemical Emergency’ in the ‘ECP Industrial Cluster’ and include ECP area as a Critically Polluted Area.

2. Appoint a team of experts to determine and monitor the quality of surface water and land as well as the groundwater and their levels on a periodic basis.

3. Devise short-term and long-term plans for remedial measures to decontaminate and remediate / restore the surface water and land as well as the groundwater levels and quality based on the “Polluter Pays Principle”.

4. Impose an immediate moratorium on expansion of the existing industries and for any new industries in this area.

5. Devise an option of shifting of known polluting industries from this area in the interest of life, livelihood, and environment of the area.

6. 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.

7. Take exemplary action, against all the defaulting polluting industries located in Nandesari Industrial Estate, Vadodara Industrial Complex, and the ‘ECP industrial Cluster’.

8. Initiate criminal case against all the concerned and responsible officers of VECL and defaulting industries.

9. Implement at the earliest, the Order of the Supreme Court and NGT.

10. Appoint a high level committee of the MOEF&CC, CPCB, GPCB, local state authority, representatives of the affected villagers and the representatives of the voluntary organizations working in this area on environment and independent expertise to help design, monitor and evaluate all these works carried out in the area and submit its reports to the concerned authorities and the local people affected by the pollution and contamination, on a regular basis.

After continued complaints by the PSS on December 13 2018, the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) had issued VECL a closure notice for not complying with water quality norms and stated that if corrective measures were not taken by VECL within 30 days, it would be forced to implement closure. VECL had then moved the Gujarat High court against this notice. However, even after all these efforts by PSS and the orders by the NGT and Supreme Court, VECL was given four extensions by the GPCB even though the CC&A license had expired. GPCB cited that the extensions were given on the basis of reports saying they were trying to address the issue, reported DNA.

The latest letter by PSS may be read below.

 

Related:

Assam gas -well blowout: 11 days on, threat to humans and animals remains high

Vapi Industries Association wants Gujarat Pollution Board to relax environmental clearance norms

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