Ahmedabad: The Comptroller and Auditor General of India has raised serious concerns over the high levels of pollution in Gujarat’s rivers and lakes.
Gujarat has taken the lead among other states in setting up a dedicated climate change department, but the apex audit body, which also looks into the efficiency of government programmes, says in its latest report that the Narendra Modi government has not formulated any water policy specific to the state.
“Government of Gujarat had not formulated any policy based on the local conditions for prevention of pollution of rivers, lakes, and ground water. While treatment of industrial effluents before its discharge is compulsory, no programme had been introduced to prevent such pollution from agriculture,” CAG says in the report, which was released on Friday.
CAG adds that Rajasthan, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh, unlike Gujarat, have water policies in place, but doesn’t make specific observations on the pollution control efforts of these states.
The National River Conservation Plan, it said, “was implemented, but without conducting study on the level of pollution at the point of discharge. Out of 170 urban local bodies, 158 had not established sewage treatment plants. Four major rivers were not selected for cleaning.”
The CAG in its scope of limitation for the audit also made a remark that no information was provided by the Ahmedabad municipal corporation or the state government for the audit of the National Green Volunteers or the Sabarmati River Conservation Project.
CAG said there was an increase in the incidence of water-borne diseases due to heavily polluted water sources.
It cited south Gujarat as the worst case, blaming industrial clusters like Vapi, Ankleshwar and Nandesari near Vadodara for violating pollution control norms and discharging untreated waste.
About 32% of Gujarat’s drinking water sources were found to be contaminated in a pre-monsoon survey, but the villagers were not alerted, according to CAG.
“Sampled pollution control programme of Sabarmati River at Ahmedabad though seemingly working, did not succeed in bringing down pollution levels to the prescribed norms. Present status of Sabarmati shows the presence of fecal-related disease causing pathogens as well as organic pollution at the outskirts of the city limits,” the report says.
CAG criticized state government bodies including the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) for ignoring the effects of pollution on human health.
The report is also critical of the common effluent treatment plants (CETP) at Vapi, Ankleshwar, Sanand and Veraval. In Ankleshwar, an industrial area, CETPs were discharging “treated” industrial waste water that was many time above prescribed norms, CAG said.
In Hazira, CAG noted that due to the presence of high levels of hydrocarbons in the waste water discharged by industries in the area, “large-scale death of aqua stock in the river was reported in the recent past.”
The pollution levels in Gujarat’s rivers and lakes have actually fallen over the past few years, said Hardik Shah, member secretary, GPCB. “If you take into account the rapid level of industrialization in Gujarat in the past two years and if you compare with the pollution levels four-five years ago, you will see that the pollution level has gone down immensely and the Centre has taken note of this,” Shah said.