The huge number of cars that run in Delhi cause a lot of air and noise pollution. However, it is their maintenance that is leading to extremely harmful water and soil contamination.
The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) has launched a crackdown against service centres and workshops of top automobile companies in the capital for spewing untreated sewage into drains and dumping solid waste.
A total of 32 units were issued show-cause notices on March 14 and necessary action would follow, the DPCC recently informed National Green Tribunal. The pollution watchdog has also asked the three municipal corporations and the Delhi Development Authority to take action against erring units in their jurisdiction.
Experts say the waste generated at service stations is extremely hazardous. When a car is washed, a large amount of oil and grease mixes with water, and this should not go down the drain without being treated.
The waste includes cotton, filters, pouches, sludge, electronic discards, plastic, foam, old tyres, rubber and seat covers. Many service stations in the capital do not have treatment facilities. Besides much water, often sourced through illegal borewells, is wasted during cleaning, said a DPCC official.
With a daily addition of more than 1,000 vehicles in Delhi, service stations have been mushrooming. There are 74.53 lakh vehicles registered in Delhi.
The DPCC swung into action after an NGO, Delhi Pollution Control Society, approached the tribunal, saying most of 118 units involved in servicing, washing and painting of vehicles in Delhi were running without pollution permits.
The petition claimed these units discharge toxic pollutants like grease in the sewage systems, water bodies, wasteland, eventually polluting the Yamuna and groundwater, besides causing air pollution.
The petition also claimed most of these units were running in unauthorised locations in Rithala, Okhla, Rohini, Vikaspuri, Palam, Narela, Shahdra, Dwarka, Uttam Nagar and Karol Bagh. The DPCC has also admitted only 36 are located in approved industrial clusters.
“Licences have been issued without due consideration to environment. Units have not set up treatment plants; they don’t have waste management systems. They are dumping automobile oils, grease, posing threat to public and environment. They also use illegal borewells, further depleting groundwater,” the petition alleges.
The manner in which these units are running right under the nose of government agencies clearly indicates there is a clear case of connivance, the NGO has said. Invoking the right to healthy environment, the NGO has sought, from the tribunal, directions to government agencies to investigate how many units have requisite approvals and take action against the illegal ones.
The tribunal first issued notices on January 1 to the union ministry of environment and forests, DPCC, Central Pollution Control Board and municipal corporations, and sought their response to the petition.
The petition also alleged that government agencies have failed to take action against “unauthorised” service centres or workshops as due to “extraneous and illegal considerations”. The tribunal will hear the matter next on May 9.