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

Environmentalists slam demand, say shameful that insincere industries can pressure the government


After the Vapi Industries Association (VIA) made questionable requests to the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) essentially asking for the pollution watchdog to relax effluent discharge norms citing the shortage of skilled staff to manage Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CETP) in a letter dated May 18, 2020, environmentalists from the state of Gujarat and from the country have come forward to slam the demand of the VIA saying that it shows the VIA’s “puny understanding about the natural resources and environment”.

In a letter to Mukesh Puri, the Chairman of the GPCB, the President of the VIA, Prakash Bhadra had put forth the following thoughts:

1.       Due to skilled personnel manning Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP) operations not being available in the lockdown, there may be non-compliance in discharge norms – in this regards, VIA has said that though it is working hard to put all its industry members under compliance, the GPCB should not take harsh steps or actions for petty lapses and instead give time to concerned industries for a personal hearing. VIA had also demanded that defaulting units should be given a chance to present their case in front of a Grievance Redressal Committee which may be formed by the Board and include the President of the Industries Association.

2.       Granting Consent to Establish (CTE) and Consolidated Consent and Authorization (CCA) to pending applications instead of rejecting them with small administrative reasons to help industries for their smooth functioning.

3.       Just like the Board is granting environmental clearances to pharmaceutical industries, it should grant the same to industries in other sectors too, to boost the economy.

4.       If there are any lapses in complying with environmental norms or if members fail to meet discharge norms, the industries should be heavily penalized by closing them down. First time defaulters should be given a financial penalty, second time defaulters should be punished with a heavier penalty and third time defaulters may have a harsher punishment slapped on them.

5.       The VIA has asked the GPCB to abolish the norm of getting individual Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) studies done for industries situated within an industrial estate and discharging their treated waste water through a Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) drainage line since it costs Rs. 5 to 7 lakh, which is unaffordable for small units. Instead of this, the VIA says that the EIA report of the concerned CETP of that industrial estate should be submitted for establishment of new units or expansion of existing units of the concerned industrial estate.

The entire letter by the Vapi Industries Association (VIA) may be read below.

In response to the letter of the VIA, senior environmentalists, Rohit Prajapati and Krishnakant, members of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, said, “It is quite shameful that such insincere and shallow industries are able to pressurize the government as well as concerned authorities under the farce of economic hardship and growth,” Counterview reported.

They also raised a pertinent question regarding VIA saying, “If there is no labour to treat their industrial effluent, where do they get the labour to run their industry that generates effluent?” This pointed out to the fact that the VIA had said that industrial activities would continue during the lockdown just like before.

The activists also mentioned that it would even more appalling if the government accepts their demand. They said that economic growth achieved without environmental protection and restoration is not only short-lived but also proves costly in the long run, slamming the demands of the VIA saying that such demands only attempt to water down environmental laws to benefit the polluters.

Last year the principal bench of the National Green Tribunal had authorized a joint team of the GPCB and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to recover compensation of Rs. 117 crore from polluting industries in Vapi Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) for the pollution of the Daman Ganga River. The CETP operator, Vapi Green Enviro Limited (VGEL) was also slapped a fine of Rs. 10 crore for violating inlet norms.


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