The state government is considering scrapping the River Regulation Zone policy, which was formulated in 2000 to regulate industrial pollution along river basins.
The policy decides the location of industries along the river basins, depending on the severity of the pollution expected. It divides river catchment areas into four types, and classifies areas within 3km of the high flood line on either side of the basin and within 8km on both sides of the dam catchment area as no development zones.
Industrial unit owners, however, claim the policy does not consider clean technologies. They are also against setting up of a review committee to consider proposals seeking exemptions. “There is a strong opinion that the policy is not required because the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) gives consent for establishment of all units. Most industries also get a clearance from the state expert appraisal committee, so there is no need for an additional committee to review the projects,” said a senior official from the industries department.
After a meeting with officials to promote industries in Maharashtra on Monday, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis announced the review of the policy. Officials said the amendment or scrapping the policy, which comes under the state, will not be difficult for the government.
Environment activists are not convinced. “While the Modi government plans to clean rivers, the state is looking at removing a mechanism which could curb pollution. The MPCB is not equipped to monitor or supervise industrial pollution in rivers. Industries are putting pressure on the government, but it is against public interest,” said Stalin D, environmentalist.
Recently, a high-level committee to frame guidelines for existing industries in the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) areas along the river basins was formed.