System in place for industrial expansion in critically, severely polluted areas

NT NETWORK

Panaji

Following National Green Tribunal (NGT) direction, the
Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has evolved a mechanism to ensure that
industrial expansion can be allowed or new units under red and orange
categories can be set up after due precautions in “critically polluted” and
“severely polluted” industrial areas.

The apex pollution
control and monitoring body has asked every state pollution control board to
carry out study on carrying capacity of each polluted industrial area based on
the protocols fixed by them to assess whether new industrial activities or
expansion can be allowed in such industrial areas.

As per the mechanism
developed by CPCB, the state government, while considering proposals for grant
of environmental clearance for expansion or setting up new units within 5 kms
of critically or severely polluted areas, must ensure that in case of category
B1 project, it needs to be appraised at central level and for B2 project at the
state level.

However, the proposals
of expansion or setting up new units in such polluted areas will be examined by
the sectoral Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) during scoping and appraisal
stage based on the CEPI scores for its recommendation which would be mentioned
in the Terms of Reference required for preparing EIA report.

The CPCB has also asked
the state pollution control boards to put additional conditions which are not
covered under the EIA notification to comply with the grant of consent to
establish or consent to operate to those projects or activities falling under
red or orange categories located in severely or critically-polluted areas.

Taking serious note of
the CPCB compiled data of 100 polluting industrial areas (PIAs), a Bench headed
by NGT chairperson justice Adarsh Kumar Goel had in August last year barred the
state from allowing further industrial activities or expansion with regard to
‘red’ and ‘orange’ category units till these polluting industrial areas are
brought within the prescribed parameters or till the carrying capacity of the
area is assessed and new units or expansion is found viable having regard to
the carrying capacity of the area and environmental norms.

According to the
protocol set for critically polluted and severely polluted areas, the CPCB
suggests every state pollution control boards to use the Comprehensive
Environmental Pollution Index (CEPI) scores of the critically polluted
industrial clusters/areas to understand the severity of pollution existing in
the area or may carry out reassessment of the CEPI and formulate action plan in
three months to restore the environmental quality.

It also asked to
undertake twice a year environmental quality monitoring for evaluating CEPI in
the polluted areas through expert agencies and also conduct source
apportionment studies to ascertain contribution from sources including
industries for planning actions.

It further says that the
action plans may be prepared by a committee headed by chief secretary
comprising of representatives from industries and while preparing such plans
the committee should define long-term and short-term plans along with sector
and region-wise action plans with timelines and responsible implementing
agencies.

Accordingly these plans
need to be reviewed quarterly by state and district level monitoring committee
to ensure that there is no slippage by responsible agencies in achieving the
timeline or activities to be completed and if there is non-compliance then
responsibility should be fixed on the errant officials.

In case CEPI score of a
particular critically-polluted area continues to be in critical category for a
year then the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest may review the action
plan of the concerned state and revise the timelines with additional action
points and may even recommend penal action against responsible department for failing
to achieve the timelines.

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