MPCB shuts down 49 factories in Pune for polluting environment
The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) has shut down as many as 49 factories, mostly chemical and pharmaceutical units, in Pune during the past two years for large-scale violation of anti-pollution laws and causing damage to the environment.
The factories found to be discharging pollutants into the Mula-Mutha river streams were investigated by the MPCB and have been found to have violated the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, and the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.
Information regarding the factory closure was revealed by MPCB under the Right to Information (RTI) Act filed by the Watchdog Foundation based in Mumbai. Earlier, speaking to Hindustan Times, P Anbalagan, member secretary of MPCB said, “We asked the factories to shut down as a last resort after they repeatedly failed to comply with environmental laws. We were forced to take this action on the basis of the severity of the violations.”
Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Maharashtra has the maximum number of polluted river stretches in the country - 49 of 315. Around 3,000 million litres of untreated sewage and industrial effluents regularly flow into the rivers, lakes, and other water bodies of the state.
The ministry of environment, forests and climate change (MoEFCC) in its report stated that while Maharashtra generates 13% of the country’s sewage, about 8,143 million litres a day (MLD), it has facilities to treat only 5,160.36 million litres of sewage on a daily basis.
Trustee of Watchdog Foundation Godfrey Pimenta, who has been spearheading the drive, said that the situation is alarming as the environmental pollution caused by factories is at an all-time high. “Our RTI information reveals that most of the factories in Pune were found polluting the Mula-Mutha rivers which led to their closure,” Pimenta told Hindustan Times over phone.
Factories and industrial units that failed to install or effectively use individual effluent treatment plants (ETP) and common effluent treatment plants (CETP), or found to directly discharge effluents in to water bodies without following environmental norms, are the ones against whom the action has been taken.
Besides, closure directions were issued as a result of orders passed by the Supreme Court and the National Green Tribunal. The MPCB policy mandates that if during sample checking of discharges of pollutants from the plants, if the levels exceed the safe standards by 70%, then the environment policy clearly mandates shutting down the industries without any hearing.
PCMC region has most offenders
MPCB has been accused by environmentalists for being ineffective in lacking teeth and necessary administrative will against the polluters.
The MPCB has issued more than 5,000 show cause notices to erring factories between 2011 and 2017.
Most of the manufacturing units ranging from automobiles, tyres, textiles, chemicals and steel industries are located in PCMC region which has the most offenders.
Out of the 744 million litres per day (MLD) of waste generated by Pune through sewage and other means, 177 MLD of waste is entering the rivers without treatment.
MPCB report published in Feb 2017 says that Pune region has maximum number of river stretches where the water quality index is either ‘bad’ or ‘very bad’