Ghaziabad: Ahead of GRAP implementation, pollution board gears up to check industrial emissionUpdated: Oct 12, 2020, 00:04 IST
Ghaziabad: Ahead of October 15 when the graded response action plan (GRAP) comes into effect, the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) has asked polluting units to submit affidavits of different compliances, or they will be liable to pay up heavy penalties upon any instances of violation. The officials said these are part of strict measures in order to control air pollution.
According to officials, the city has about 340 air polluting units, which use different types of fuels, including wood and coal, for their operations. Officials said they held meetings with different industrial area associations and asked air polluting units to submit affidavits before October 15.
“In the affidavits, the units have been asked to give undertakings that they will operate their air pollution control systems, as well as use only authorised sources of fuel. This year, we are taking every precaution against industrial emissions. During past years, there have been instances that some erring units were found using rubber, plastic, etc., as fuel. So, they have been asked to submit affidavits and comply, else they will face penalties which range from ₹10 lakh to ₹1 crore, once GRAP measures are implemented,” said Utsav Sharma, regional officer of the UPPCB.
“Such penalties will be levied against units found not operating their air pollution control systems or found using unauthorised fuel,” he added.
The Supreme Court had banned the use of pet coke and furnace oil as fuel in 2017 in NCR.
Officials said that the penalty amounts have been defined under an order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in August 2019, and that they will levy penalties as per the order.
In its order under the heading, ‘Environmental Compensation to be levied on all violations of Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) in NCR,’ the tribunal had fixed the ranges of penalty between ₹10 lakh to ₹1 crore for industrial emissions based on the state of air quality – ₹10 lakh for ‘moderate to poor,’ ₹25 lakh for ‘very poor,’ ₹50 lakh under ‘severe’ and ₹1 crore under ‘severe+/emergency.’
The UPPCB had recently issued directions to construction sites to install CCTV cameras, whose control will rest with the board for monitoring. Besides, about 70 industrial units using wood and coal as fuel have also been asked to install chimney-facing cameras before October 15.
Members of industrial area associations, meanwhile, said that the majority of the units are currently trying to recover from the economic effects of the lockdown, which were taken up in wake of the coronavirus (Covid-19) disease pandemic.
“To our estimate, we have about 70% units which are struggling to pay their bank instalments, besides meeting their fixed costs which include paying workers. About 80% of the industrial units have already started using alternate fuel by incurring heavy capital investment. However, there are others which have no huge funds left to invest for switching over,” said Anil Gupta, general secretary of the Ghaziabad Industries Federation.
“There are units where CNG or PNG are not a viable source to operate furnace units. Considering the present state of the industrial units, there should be leniency shown by agencies. If we analyse the current scenario, pollution in the region is rising primarily due to instances of stubble burning in nearby states,” he added.
The All India Metal Forging Association, Ghaziabad, meanwhile, demanded subsidies to cover the cost of the alternative fuels.
“In Ghaziabad, forging units are using hammers which are run by electricity. Considering the electricity rates here in comparison to other states, such units are under burden. The departments want us to run on alternative fuel like PNG. But these require huge investments and our demand is already low in the wake of the pandemic. If 80% subsidy can be provided, it will bring relief to such units,” the association said in a statement.
With regard to instances of stubble burning, the Ghaziabad district magistrate on Sunday fixed the responsibility of the sub-divisional magistrates of the respective areas to keep a check on the matter.
“They have been asked to brief farmers in their areas to not to indulge in any instance of stubble burning. Besides, the tehsildars, lekhpals and gram chowkidars have also been sensitised to keep a watch in their respective areas. Further, directions have been given to the agricultural department to popularise the use of equipment among farmers which considerably reduces stubble. Farmers can individually purchase such equipment or even resort to community purchase from the agriculture department,” said Ajay Shankar Pandey, district magistrate.
According to statistics of the Consortium for Research on Agro Ecosystem Monitoring and Modelling from Space (CREAMS) Laboratory – a Division of Agricultural Physics, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi, there have been no instances of stubble burning in Ghaziabad district from October 1 to October 9. There were no instances during the same period in 2019 as well.