Opinion

Zero effect growth

Manoj Misra | Updated on March 09, 2018 Published on December 31, 2015

BL01_THINK_DC   -  Business Line

Greening ‘Make in India’



Before the ‘Make in India’ came the ‘Zero defect and Zero effect’ pitch.

While ‘Zero defect’ was followed up by ‘Skilled India’, there was no commensurate action aimed at preventing industrial pollution as part of the ‘Zero effect’.

The enhanced fines and penal clauses for pollution proposed recently by the environment ministry could be cited as a step towards the latter, but that is all post facto, where the track record of our pollution watchdog agencies especially at the State level is nothing to gloat about.

That the post of Chairman, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), has been lying vacant since February 2012 is a measure of the importance that pollution abatement and mitigation is receiving at the environment ministry.

To prevent possible pollution of the nation’s soil, water and air from the come one, come all invitation being extended under the ‘Make in India’ drive, it would be wise to look at and first remedy the ‘effect’ from the already ‘Made in India’ experience. Let us look at a case in point.

A leading multinational beverages manufacturer has a factory in an industrial complex not very far from Delhi. The results of a National Green Tribunal-directed investigation done in October 2015 by the CPCB of alleged groundwater pollution from the untreated or poorly treated effluents generated from the factory are telling.

Not only was the water pollution confirmed, it was also found that the factory’s ETP (effluent treatment plant) was defunct and two of its three STPs (sewage treatment plants) were in ruins. While the quality of its hazardous waste management was found to be questionable, the factory was reported to be operating at full capacity despite its ‘consent to operate’ from the State Pollution Control Board having expired on December 31, 2014.

Amazingly, this was when the State Pollution Control Board, the primary pollution watchdog in the State had, just a month before, given a clean chit to the said company.

Clearly, such a compromised attitude to pollution monitoring and enforcement of laws is at the root of the largescale degradation of the quality of air, water and soil surrounding many industrial areas in the country. This must see a paradigm shift under ‘Zero effect’ for a pollution-free ‘Make in India’.

In this context, the Supreme Court directions to the Union government made first in 2011 in the Lafarge case and re-emphasised in January 2014 to set up an autonomous National Environmental Appraisal and Monitoring Authority takes centre-stage.

Such a statutory and autonomous body with powers like the Election Commission or the Securities and Exchange Board of India could ensure the necessary independence to pollution watch agencies to ensure a safe and healthy nation.

Jairam Rameshsaw merit in such a move when he was environment minister, but failed to implement it. Will Prakash Javadekar, the current minister rise to the occasion? India could even present this as the first example of walking the talk on climate change mitigation .

The writer is the convener of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan

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Published on December 31, 2015
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