Cops roped in to help Maharashtra Pollution Control Board act against polluting units

Tuesday, 24 December 2013 - 11:16am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

On December 16, the Maharashtra Green Tribunal (MGT), Pune, directed the deputy superintendent of police, Thane rural, to provide protection to state pollution board officials, who have been entrusted with the task of taking action against the industrial units that are polluting the Ulhas river.

The directive came in response to an affidavit filed by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, which had claimed threat to its officials from factories that are discharging untreated refuse and toxic chemicals into the river. The court has now given a month’s time to MPCB for the job.

Armed with the court order, MPCB has served closure notices on 200 erring factories in the past week.

Ulhas river, from which far-flung suburb Ulhasnagar derives its name, provides drinking water to Navi Mumbai, Badlapur, Ambernath, Ulhasnagar and Kalyan. Once a source of livelihood for thousands of fishermen, the stream, which orginates from Karjat and snakes between Kulgaon and Badlapur, is today a classic case of blatant violation of pollution norms and government apathy.

There are over 400 industrial units in Dombivali, Ambernath, Chikhloli and other MIDCs on the banks of Ulhas. However, most of the factories flout MPCB guidelines with regard to disposal of waste.

Earlier, NGO Vanshakti had taken the issue of the ailing Ulhas with the green tribunal. These companies, according to an investigation by Vanshakti, discharge untreated chemical effluents (CE) into the nullahs which meets the river. 

According to government norms, companies should treat CEs and bring down the level of chemical oxygen demand (COD) in the waste to 1000mg/ml and then send it for treatment.  The refuse should then be treated further to lower the COD to 250mg/ml before it is released into any water body.

The green tribunal had on October 16 directed MPCB to take action against the defaulting industrial setups. However, MPCB then approached the tribunal citing threat to officials from unscrupulous operators.

“We told the court that when our officials go to take action against the errant industries they are attacked. So the honorable court asked the police to provide us protection while doing our duty,” said Bhagvandas Solunke, regional officer, MPCB, Kalyan. 

In its affidavit, MPCB had said that though they are authorised to punish defaulting units in the form of closure notice and disconnection (power & water), they do not have the power to impose spot fine, including sealing a factory for non-compliance with order of disconnection or closure. 

“It is recommended to constitute a committee under the chairmanship of the district collector and the complainant to identify unauthorised units and to close down with the assistance of the police, whenever necessary,” says the MPCB’s affidavit.

The matter will come up for hearing on January 15, 2014 when MPCB has to tell the court the action it has taken against the industries.

The rule
According to government norms, companies should treat CEs and bring down the level of chemical oxygen demand (COD) in the waste to 1000mg/ml and then send it for treatment.  The refuse should then be treated further to lower the COD to 250mg/ml before it is released into any water body.


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