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Big firms named in Ganga shame list

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By A.S.R.P. MUKESH
  • Published 13.11.14
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Ranchi, Nov. 12: Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board (JSPCB) has listed on its website around 200 industrial, mining and other units, including Tata Steel, Central Coalfields Limited and Jindal, which were found to be polluting two offshoots of the Ganga in the state.

This “name and shame” action comes in the wake of Supreme Court’s October 29 rap on the National Green Tribunal (NGT), the Centre and state pollution control boards for their failure to pull up polluting industries on Ganga banks.

In Jharkhand, Damodar is the main tributary of the Ganga while North Koel is a sub-tributary. Industrial pollution and encroachment have gone on unchecked for years in both these rivers, which not only harmed their health but also of the Ganga.

“These rivers play a crucial role for the Ganga conservation project. After an exhaustive survey, we have managed to categorically identify each polluting unit and the intensity of each offender,” said JSPCB chairman A.K. Mishra.

Damodar traverses 300km with over a dozen big and small rivers as tributaries. The pollution board has identified about 94 industries and mining units in Patratu, Ramgarh, Gomia, Bermo, Phusro, Bokaro, Chandrapura, Jharia, Dhanbad, Sindri, Koderma, Giridih and Chirkunda that directly pollute the Damodar.

“Central Coalfields Limited, Tata Steel, Jindal Steel and Power and Patratu thermal power station are among the many big names who are serious offenders,” said a source.

Another 65-70 units, “seriously polluting in nature”, have been identified in Dumka, Deoghar and Chatra. “Their mining effluents make way into the Ganga via some means due to surface run-off during monsoon. This seriously calls for corrective measures,” the source added.

On North Koel banks, the board has identified about 10 polluting units.

JSPCB officials maintained they had gone by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) guidelines. “Any industry discharging toxic effluents of 100kg per day or more is a seriously polluting one,” a board official said, hoping this “name and shame” would force industrial units to rethink their way of functioning.

“Anything in public domain makes an impact,” he quipped.

The move to host names on the JSPCB website was in compliance with an NGT directive on October 29, when the Supreme Court bench comprising justices T.S. Thakur, Adarsh K. Goel and R. Banumathi asked for stringent action against polluting units, including snapping water and electricity supply and even closure, if need be.

The bench also rapped state boards for not standing up against polluting units with money and political influence.

“This is an institutional failure and your story is a complete story of failure, frustration and disaster. You need to stand up against polluting units. It will take another 50 years if the task is left to you,” the bench said.

On correctives, JSPCB chairman Mishra couldn’t come up with a concrete answer. “Our first job was to identify offenders as per NGT orders and make them public. Now, we will work out ways to crack the whip on offenders in consultation with the NGT and CPCB,” he said. He added that though the board did slap notices and penalties on polluting firms in the past, for better results, they had to ensure that companies installed sewage treatment plants and so on.