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Pollution assessment: State to take on Centre

Maharashtra’s environment department has contested the Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) assessment of industrial areas in the country that have put eight of the state’s industrial areas on the ‘critical and severe comprehensive environment pollution index’ (CEPI). Ketaki Ghoge reports.

mumbai Updated: Jan 19, 2010 00:39 IST
Ketaki Ghoge

Maharashtra’s environment department has contested the Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) assessment of industrial areas in the country that have put eight of the state’s industrial areas on the ‘critical and severe comprehensive environment pollution index’ (CEPI).

As HT had first reported, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), based on this assessment, has decided to block environmental clearances to 88 such polluted hotspots across India. This includes eight in Maharashtra — Navi Mumbai, Chandrapur, Aurangabad, Tara-pur, Dombivli, Nashik, Chembur and Pimpri-Chinchwad. An MoEF directive on January 13 put a spanner in all infrastructure works in these areas.

The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) has written to the CPCB disagreeing with their listing. The MPCB has pointed out that the state does not agree with the CPCB’s methodology to work out the pollution index. It also rued the lack of collaboration and consultancy in assessing these industrial clusters.

“We wrote our comments to the CPCB on this assessment on January 15 and we hope they will be considered,’’ said MPCB member secretary Mahesh Phatak. Environment secretary Valsa Nair Singh said that the inclusion of certain areas like Aurangabad in the list, called for a re-look at the assessment. Officials are also unsure whether the list refers to just industrial clusters like Aurangabad MIDC [Maharashtra Industrial Develo-pment Corporation] or Chandra-pur MIDC or the entire district.

“The idea behind this assessment was to find the most polluted areas and then work out an action plan to improve the index here. Since, we are implementing the action plan, we would have liked a more collaborative role,’’ Singh said.

The state feels only industrial expansion should be halted and that the assessment should not affect infrastructure projects. The assessment could affect mega projects. The CPCB’s draft report was discussed on December 24 with an assurance that state would be given two months to respond.

But the MOEF directive came before that say officials. The environment department is expected to write to the environment ministry on the issue.