Ranchi, April 17: The Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board (JSPCB) today issued a deadline to all industries, asking them to have functional effluent treatment plants by May 22 or face punitive action ranging from fines to closure notices.
The move comes in the wake of the February 22 Supreme Court order asking states not to allow industrial units to work without primary effluent treatment plants in the next three months, the state board notice coming after more than half the stipulated time has passed.
Board member secretary Sanjay Kumar Suman said industries which don't run their existing effluent treatment plants would face stiff fines while those without the facility would be asked to close.
The state had around 2,000 industries comprising big and small units of which around 110 come under the 'most polluting' category. Under the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), polluting industries came under 17 verticals, of which the 110 most polluting units in Jharkhand came under six (steel, thermal, coal washeries).
Suman said most big industries under polluting categories had effluent treatment plants without which they did not get consent to operate. Also, monitoring was computerised, with effluent treatment plants connected online to the state board headquarters in Ranchi and central board in Delhi.
But, loopholes remain.
According to Suman, more than installation of effluent treatment plants, the problem lies in irregular operations. Many industries switch off the plants to save on power cost. An industry might cite excuses to the board, such as a power fault, if the computerised monitoring shows the effluent plant is not running. "But, we don't have enough manpower to physically verify what the problem is," Suman said. "The board was set up in the 1970s but after 2000, when Jharkhand was formed, there has been no recruitment."
He also added that the board did not have concrete data on how many effluent plants were currently functional but said they would roll out teams from May for surprise raids on industries.
"We try our best. Around six months back, we issued a temporary closure notice to about 50 industries when we discovered that effluent plants weren't functioning. The notice was revoked once industries complied," said Suman. "But the board alone can't ensure compliance as we don't have enough manpower to keep tabs on all units. For regular vigil, we request all stakeholders, especially the masses, to come forward with complaints and help us act for a cleaner environment," Suman said.
He added that for small industries that can't afford a personal effluent treatment plant, the Supreme Court ordered common effluent treatment plants to be set up.