Photo: Indranil Bhoumik/Mint
Photo: Indranil Bhoumik/Mint

New pollution-monitoring norms to be finalized in 2-3 months

The environment ministry has proposed standards to regulate at least 22 sectors over the past few months

The Union environment ministry has proposed new pollution monitoring standards for industries in at least 22 sectors over the past few months in an attempt to regulate these sectors better.

Some of these standards have been put online for suggestions and comments from various stakeholders.

“These would be finalized and notified within the next two to three months. These proposed standards will immensely strengthen the ministry’s overall regulation of the polluting industries," said a senior environment ministry official, who did not want to be identified.

The 22 sectors include industries such as paint, fertilizers, cement and co-processing, pulp and paper, sugar, thermal power plants, textiles, slaughterhouses, brick kilns, coffee, common effluent treatment plants, sewage treatment plants, fermentation (distilleries, maltries and breweries) and diesel generator sets.

In February , the Centre for Science and Environment, a non-governmental organization, had in a report pointed to the severe air pollution caused by thermal power plants across the country.

The National Green Tribunal and the Supreme Court have also pulled up the environment ministry over the issue of air and water pollution.

The senior ministry official cited earlier said that the new standards would check both air and water pollution.

“Some of the industries in the list of 22 are highly polluting industries like cement and fertilizers," the official added.

The new standards focuses on waste-water management to check groundwater pollution from toxic discharges.

One of the draft monitoring standards also talks about “bathing water quality criteria" as part of the efforts to “restore sanctity of rivers".

The move seems to be a result of the severe criticism from activists that the environment ministry is only keen on giving green clearances to industries for various projects.

Environment minister Prakash Javadekar, meanwhile, has been stressing on online monitoring of industries for greater transparency and also to address staff shortage.

“These new proposed standards would complement efforts of online monitoring. One, there is staff crunch, and two, there are thousands of industries... so physical monitoring of all such industries is nearly impossible," said the official cited earlier.

Environmentalist Manoj Misra, however, called for strict implementation of all rules.

“Things like pollution control should be a more people-centric movement. However, over the period of time, the general public has been excluded from pollution controlling activities. How will the government guarantee that the new system will not become dysfunctional in some time? There is no feedback mechanism where the common people can report to the government about pollution around them," said Misra, convenor of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan, a civil society campaign to save the Yamuna river.

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