The government has set end of June as the new deadline for industries along the Ganga to install an online pollution reporting systems, failing which they would be shut down.
The internet-based reporting systems, which would help the Central Pollution Control Board(CPCB) monitor emissions and affluent discharge, is one of the biggest initiatives taken by the Modi government to clean Ganga, considered one of the 10 most polluted rivers in the world.
The government, however, had to relax the first deadline of March 31 as the industries expressed inability to implement its directive. It has been two months and the industries have still not installed the system.
“Despite efforts by the state pollution boards to install online monitoring systems, it has not yielded desired results. Most of the industries have not been transmitting online data to the CPCB server,” CPCB chairman Shashi Shekhar has said in a strongly-worded letter to all state pollution control boards.
So far, only about 40% of the polluting industries in the Ganga river basin area, covering Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal, have installed the online monitoring system. Only one-fifth of those with systems installed have started transmitting data to the central server.
According to CPCB officials, several highly-polluting industries are reluctant to install the system. “Once the system is installed, many factories may have to improve their production process to reduce the pollution load. That costs money and the industries are reluctant,” a senior CPCB official said.
The pollution watchdog is now pushing the industries hard to meet the new deadline. “No further extension of the deadline will be given and the (state) pollution boards will have no option but to withdraw the consent to operate and forfeit bank guarantee of factories that fail to comply with the orders,” Shekhar said in his letter.
The CPCB has also decided that systems being installed by the factories will be certified by a new national agency which the government proposes to set up to ensure adherence to environmental law.