The National Green Tribunal on Wednesday directed the ministry of environment and forests (MOEF) and central pollution control board (CPCB) to clarify their stand on the demand of setting up effluent treatment plants to treat sewage water used for growing vegetables and crops, said petitioner Subash Pandey.
The directions were given by the tribunal’s central bench while hearing a case filed by environmentalist Subash Pandey. The next hearing in the case will be on February 1.
The case pertains to the use of untreated effluents and sewage water for growing agriculture crops and vegetables, especially on the outskirts of the cities.
Pandey said he had apprised the green panel that sewage water used for growing vegetables had hazardous chemicals and heavy metals in it and as such basic sewerage treatment plants couldn’t stop the contamination of the vegetables.
“I requested the tribunal that there should be a change in the norms laid down in the Environment Protection Act 1986 so that instead of STPs, effluent treatment could be set up for treating sewerage water used in growing vegetables and crops,” he said.
Pandey said the NGT directed the MOEF and CPCB to look into the matter and clear their stand on this issue.
“This is a land mark direction with far-reaching implications. If the MOEF and CPCB agree to change the norms in this regard, the contamination of vegetables grown using sewage water, especially those grown in the outskirts of city, will be significantly lessened,” he said.
In October last year, the green panel had directed the state government and state pollution control board to get in touch with the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and find out specific provisions regarding the water which may be permissible for irrigation as well as the quality of vegetables that were fit for selling in markets.
The MPPCB had filed reports of water samples from Bhopal, Sagar, Mandsaur and Shivpuri region.
The report had pointed out that the samples which were tested were found fit for agriculture purposes as per the BIS standards laid down for tolerance limits for Inland Surface Water Class-E. But NGT maintained there was no mention in it with regard to coliform levels, fecal coliform levels, heavy metals as well as pesticides, etc in the BIS standards laid down for tolerance limits for Inland Surface Water Class-E.
In September 2014, the NGT had directed the MPSPCB to take the help of central pollution control board and horticulture department for knowing the harmful effects of using untreated effluents and sewage water for growing agriculture crops and vegetables.