New Delhi, May 15: The Union environment ministry plans to introduce a fresh set of civil penalties to enforce stringent norms it has imposed on diverse industrial sectors to reduce emission and pollution loads.
The proposed penalties, which will impose fines harsher than those under existing rules, are expected to pose stronger deterrents against breaches of emission norms, minister Prakash Javadekar said today.
"We want to bring a new compliance regime, we will work on this in the coming months," Javadekar said and outlined initiatives taken by his ministry over the past two years.
"There is no rigorous punishment for non-compliance... so we want to bring in laws, the next three years, my focus will be on compliance... the new fines could be anything from Rs 10,000 to Rs 10 crore, depending on the gravity (of violations)," the minister added.
The ministry has revised effluent and emission norms for a range of units, including thermal power plants, textile, cement, paints, fertiliser and paper-and-pulp factories, and brick kilns, among others. It has also asked over 3,400 units to install instruments to record in real time their emissions and waste discharges.
The instruments record any violations of emissions and generate automatic alerts sent to factory managers and Central Pollution Control Board officials, said Javadekar who is among the recipients of the information. "Whenever the value of a parameter at any factory exceeds prescribed limits for 15 minutes, there is an alert," he said.
"We're seeing the results of our initiatives. The flow of spent wash and black liquor in the Ganga has stopped," Javadekar said. Spent wash is a waste from fermentation units while black liquor is paper-and-pulp industrial waste.
Javadekar also said new "environmental governance" initiatives he had initiated had helped cut down the average clearance time for projects from about 600 days during the regime of the UPA to about 190 days.
"We're trying to further reduce this to an average of 100 days," Javadekar said. Over the past two years, he said, his ministry has cleared 2,000 pending projects worth Rs 10 lakh crore in investments.
The minister also said new norms imposed on 764 grossly polluting industries along the Ganga and actions against violators over the past year had helped reduce wastes flowing into the river by at least 30 per cent.
The Narendra Modi government had two years ago announced fresh initiatives to clean the 2,500km Ganga. Environmental scientists say the river has remained polluted despite a three-decade long clean-up effort that cost over Rs 3,000 crore.
The scientists have pointed out that about 70 per cent of the pollution in the river is from domestic sewage. Some estimate that about 80 per cent of sewage discharged into the country's rivers is untreated or inadequately treated. The Union water resources ministry is engaged in efforts to improve sewage treatment facilities in towns along the river.