National Green Tribunal Disallows Zero Liquid Discharge and Online Monitoring Systems Across the Board in All Industries

Note on the Judgement pronounced by the NGT on 13-07-17 in the matter of O.A. No.  200 of 2017 (C. Writ Petition No. 3727/1985) M.C. Mehta v/s Union of India and others.

by Dr. Yashpal Singh

The Honourable NGT has pronounced its Judgement on 13-07-2017 in the matter of O.A. No.  200 of 2017 (C. Writ Petition No. 3727/1985) M.C. Mehta v/s Union of India and others and other related matters. It is a historic 543 page judgement which discusses and passes orders on the various issues plaguing the River Ganga in its stretch extending from Hardwar to Kanpur.

This paper( note) discusses the orders passed by the NGT in the matter of Zero liquid discharge, On line continuous monitoring systems and the Ministry of Water Resources notification dated 07/10/2016 prohibiting discharge of treated effluents into the River Ganga or its tributaries.

I have had the Honour of being associated with the All India Distillers Associations, The U.P. Sugar Mill Association, the Tanners Association, the Paper Mill Association and a few Textile Industries in their representations filed before the Honourable NGT in the matter of ZLD, the Ministry of Water resource notification dated 07/10/2016 prohibiting discharge of treated effluents into the river or its tributaries and online continuous monitoring systems as being unsustainable policy shifts. I have also had the honour to have represented the All India Distillers Association, the U.P. Sugar Mills Association and some Textile units before the Honourable NGT in these matters.

I am pleased to convey that the Honourable NGT has regarded ZLD across the Board as violative to the rights of industries, prohibited ZLD and OCEMS from being prescribed across the Board and held that ZLD as inferred from the Ministry of Water Resources notification (prohibiting discharge of treated effluents into the river or its tributaries) dated 7th October, 2016 is incapable of being enforced across the Board.

I have also suggested that in view of these orders passed by the NGT:

  1. The AIDA may urgently like to further pursue its request for One Time Controlled Land application and its suggestions earlier made for the same before the MoEF&CC with regards to the draft notification for Distillery effluent norms.
  2. The UPSMA may like to advise its Member Units to seek amendments in the consent orders in order to enable them to discharge into inland surface waters also.
  3. Industries including Distilleries, Tanneries, Pulp and Paper and Textiles which may have pending issues with the regulators in terms of ZLD, OCEMS and the Ministry of Water Resources Notification may wish to make appropriate submissions before the regulators.
  4. The NGT has also held that the general and specific direction should be read and implemented in conjunction. There are certain drain/location specific directions which prescribe unit specific action points. Member units would be advised to read these carefully. They have not been included in this discussion here.

The orders as they relate to the matters aforesaid

The Honourable NGT has passed the following orders on the issues of concern that we had raised .

 At pages 461 and 462 it has directed that ZLD (Zero Liquid Discharge) and online monitoring system would not be applied by any of the official respondents in the present application to the industrial units across the board. The directions in that behalf shall be on case to case basis particularly with reference to the load of effluent being discharged, quality of effluents, the antipollution devices that have been installed or directed to be installed and the resultant pollution caused by such industrial units and the environmental risk associated with such pollution. This should have reference to the financial viability as well.

The NGT has also directed at pages 489 , 490 and 491  that:

  1. From the above discussion, on advantages and dis-advantages of the ZLD, it is evident that ZLD cannot be adopted across the board. It must have rationality as its sole criteria, should be unit centric and industries specific. The Sugar or Distillery Industries may be of a huge capacity say discharging 100 KL per day. They could be a Sugar Industry or Distillery Unit with 10 KLD discharge and thus a very small-scale unit. To apply same yardstick to all would not be feasible and result oriented. They should be assessed on their own performance and function, however, ensuring in all the situations that the effluents permitted to be discharged on land/drain, etc. should be strictly adhering to the prescribed norms.
  2. The Board in its advisory capacity may be able to suggest or guide as to the appropriate technology,

which may be feasible for the industries for attaining the prescribed norms. To impose ZLD on such industries would neither be fair nor just. In fact, it will not be in consonance with the requirement of law under relevant Acts.

  1. An industry should be permitted to operate, subject to grant of Consent to Operate, by the concerned Board. The CPCB has the competency under law to issue directions under Section 18 of the Water Act. The purpose of empowering Boards with certain powers is to restrict and control pollution. It is not expected from the Boards to stop the natural growth or restrict industries from operating but compliance to the environmental laws is fundamental to exercise of their powers.
  2. The Board must take into consideration of the aspects including technology, financial viability, limitations of the unit, process adopted by the industries but in all events ensuring that the discharge of effluents from the unit has to be strictly in compliance with the prescribed standards.
  3. No industries, big or small can be permitted to pollute the groundwater, drains, water bodies and environment.
  4. The ZLD directives cannot be applied across the board. On the one hand, it would be violative of the rights of the parties while on the other it may not be in consonance with the provisions of the relevant environmental acts.
  5. ZLD should be applied on case to case basis. The concerned boards should exercise its technical know-how to issue appropriate directions in that behalf. The ultimate purpose is prevention and control of pollution and not an internal management of the plant. Effluent discharge must be strictly within the prescribed norms and the Board in appropriate cases could issue directions with regard to recycle, reuse of the treated effluent appropriately. The ZLD as inferred from the notification dated 7th October, 2016 is incapable of being enforced across the Board without reference to the member industries and other relevant aspects aforestated.
  6. Similarly, the Online Monitoring System or Continuous Emission Monitoring System should also be applied on case-to-case basis with reference to the facts and circumstances of the given unit. They must be feasible, for instance, if there is a tannery unit which has consent for processing of say 10 hides a day, it cannot be expected to become ZLD or to install Online Monitoring System or Continuous Emission Monitoring System would be opposed to any accepted principles of technology and safeguards of economic advancement. They would be compelled to operate and discharge their effluents only and strictly as per the prescribed norms in default, they would be liable to be shutdown.

The Road Ahead

Based on the above judgement I would feel that the member units may like to solve any pending issues they have with regards to ZLD, OCEMS or the MoWR notification.

 For the distillery sector, the time appears ripe to take up the issue of onetime controlled land application. I think we should send a representation to the Moef and follow up our earlier representation on the draft standards before they are finalized.

The UPSMA may also wish to inform its members to seek necessary amendments in their consent orders to facilitate them to discharge effluents into inland surface waters also.

The Detailed Examination by the NGT of representations filed by the AIDA, UPSMA, Textile and Tanners

I am also honoured to convey that the Honourable NGT has acknowledged the representation filed by the AIDA and the other stake holders as above, singling out the objections raised by the AIDA as most vehement and discussing all the objections and representations filed by the AIDA, UPSMA, Textile and Tanners in detail (Attachment-1) saying clearly that “During the course of hearing, all these aspects raised serious controversies. Some of the stakeholders including (P.341) the Industries Association, particularly, All India Distillery Association vehemently objected to the enforcement of these directions. Vide its order dated 17th February, 2016, the Tribunal noticed the presence of the various Associations like sugar, textile, tannery industries, etc.,which were provided time to submit their written submissions in relation to attainment of ZLD and installation of online monitoring system if ordered across the board.In response to this, written submissions were filed on behalf of the various stakeholders as well as the Industries Associations. We may briefly examine the same.”

In terms of the notification dated 07-10-2016 from the MOWR which prohibits the discharge of treated effluents into the river Ganga or its tributaries, the NGT has clearly observed (Para 146. Page 346, Attachment-1) that “The notification issued by MOWR thus places a complete prohibition on discharge of sewage or trade effluents, which in terms is contrary to the statutory provisions of the Water Act and the notification issued by the MoEF and CC in terms of the Environment Protection Act, 1986. The notification issued by MOWR can thus hardly be given effect to and the ZLD concept proposed can hardly be given effect to and the ZLD concept proposed can hardly be complied across the Board”. At page 347, para 146, attachment-1, it has been held that –“ The notification issued by MoWR cannot over ride the provisions of the Water Act, E.P. Act, 1986 and other statutory notifications. However, this notification would have to be given its plausible meaning by holding that it suggests ZLD in the above terms but does not absolutely prohibit the discharge of the industrial trade effluents i.e., inconsonance with the prescribed standards. If the Notification is given in literal interpretation it may result in shutting down of large number of industries in the country, that certainly does not seem to be the intent of the Notification, particularly, in face of the enacted law by the Parliament.”

At para 148, page 357, Attachment 1, as regards ZLD the judgement again observes that “To put it simply, the ZLD directives cannot be applied across the Board. On the one hand, it would be violative of the rights of the parties which on the other would not be in consonance with the provisions of the relevant environment acts. The ZLD should be applied on a case to case basis. The concerned Boards should exercise it technical knowhow to issue appropriate directions in that behalf. The ultimate purpose is prevention and control of Pollution and not an internal management of the plant. Effluent discharge must be strictly within the prescribed norms and the Board in appropriate cases could issue directions with regard to recycle, reuse of the treated effluent appropriately. Similar directions have been passed with regards to OCEMS as referred to above.

Some other directions passed by the NGT on the same matter and which could be critical to the interests of industry are as follows:

  1. Any Government Agency, Public Authority, Industry or person who violates any of the directions contained in this judgement and more particularly in relation to storage, transportation of spent chrome liquor, dumping of any kind of waste in river Ganga and its tributaries or on the banks of the same and discharges effluents from outlet, including the STP/CETP in violation to the prescribed norms or is found to be discharging spent chrome liquor or any effluent containing chrome or otherwise, shall be liable to pay environmental compensation of Rs. 50,000/- for each breach or default.( 465)
  2. There shall be a complete prohibition on disposing of MSW, E-waste or bio-medical waste on the floodplain or into river Ganga or its tributaries falling in Segment B of Phase-I.( P. 468)
  3. Till the demarcation of the floodplains and identification of permissible and non-permissible activities by the State Government of this judgement, we direct that 100 meters from the edge of the river would be treated as no development/construction zone in Segment-B of Phase-I (Haridwar to Unnao, Kanpur).( P.469)
  4. All the industrial units falling on the basin/catchment area of river Ganga and its tributaries should not be permitted to indiscriminately extract ground water. ( P.469)
  5. Extraction of groundwater should be subject to the CGWA granting permission for such extraction, and that too, only after ensuring that such permission is granted after rigorous water use assessment by the industry, water reuse and recycling methodologies adopted by the industry and also subject to the rain water harvesting measures adopted by the industry and monitored by the CGWA. The flow meters must be installed prior to the grant of such permissions. ( P.469)
  6. Every industry should be directed to pay for extraction of such water, that too, subject to the conditions stated in the order permitting such extraction.( P.471)
  7. There shall be no dumping or landfill sites for any kind of waste ( in prohibiting dumping and land fill probably refers to solid wastes) irrespective of any technology for waste processing, within 500 meters from the edge of the river Ganga and/or its tributaries.(P.472)
  8. All the existing STPs as well as the STPs to be designed and constructed should satisfy the existing standards. The new STPs should be designed and constructed in a manner in which they should be able to achieve more stringent norms, if prescribed in future. ( P.475)
  9. The STPs should not be constructed close to the riverbed, preferably there should be a distance of 500 meter plus from the edge of the river. (P.475)
  10. All the action plans under various directions of the Tribunal should be submitted by the Implementation Committee including representative of Industries Association, in relation to different industrial clusters, local authorities and bodies and the State Government, within a period of six weeks from the date of pronouncement of this judgement. ( page 475)
  11. We direct the CGWA to carry out the study and notify the areas in Segment-B of Phase-1 which are Over exploited, Critical, Semi-critical and Safe zone.
  12. There shall be complete prohibition on extraction of groundwater in the critical areas.( page 476)
  13. Wherever the industry is discharging its effluents, particularly, in case of Distillery and Sugar Mills, by method of composting, in such event, the compost material should meet the prescribed standards for such purpose as per the Notification issued by the Ministry. If the industry is found to be in default, it shall be treated a statutory violation and action should be taken accordingly by the State Board.(page 480)
  14. All the industries which have an effluent generation of 100 KLD or above per day and are located in the catchment area of river Ganga and its tributaries would be subjected to an inspection by the Joint Inspection Team of UPPCB and CPCB, if not already inspected. Appropriate directions for compliance to ensure prevention and control of pollution of discharge of trade effluent directly as per prescribed parameters shall be issued within six weeks from today.(page 483)

The NGT has also held that the general and specific direction should be read and implemented in conjunction. There are certain drain specific directions which prescribe unit specific action points. Member units would be advised to read these carefully. They have not been included in this discussion here.

ATTACHMENT -1

ZERO LIQUID DISHCARGE (ZLD), CONTINUOUS EMISSION MONITORING SYSTEM (CEMS) AND ONLINE MONITORING SYSTEM:

 In this judgement, the Tribunal is concerned with the identification and resolution of all sources causing contamination of river Ganga and its tributaries. The paramount source of pollution of the river is the effluent discharge from the industrial sectors. Regulation of ( P.339) industrial effluents introduced directly or indirectly into the river Ganga or its tributaries is a fundamental requirement for abatement of pollution. In segment-B, highly polluting industries like sugar, distillery, textile, tannery, paper mills and slaughterhouses, amongst others are located. These industries discharge treated or in majority of cases even untreated effluents into the water bodies. All industries are required to discharge their effluents strictly in accordance with the prescribed parameters. Violation thereof, leads to consequences including closure of the units in accordance with the law. Despite such serious consequences, the industrial pollution of the river has been on escalation, since past many years. There are apparent deficiencies in the effectiveness of the regulatory and supervisory regime, provided under various environmental laws in force in the country. One of the ways to improve the regulatory regime and to ensure that the industries should adhere to the relevant environmental laws was to enforce ZLD and online monitoring system. In fact, the CPCB had issued directions to the UPPCB under section 18(1)(b) of the Water Act, 1974 for seeking action plan from industries on implementation of ZLD in identifying industrial sectors in March–April, 2015. It had even issued guidelines for techno-economic feasibility of implementation of ZLD for water polluting industries in June 2015. It required that there shall be (P.340) compliance with the environmental standards notified under Environment Protection Act of 1986 and to permit the industries to discharge effluents only after compliance. It was acknowledged that ZLD was a necessity and technically exigent. It was also stated that ZLD can be achieved by adopting conventional primary, secondary and tertiary effluent treatment and polishing by filtration and using clean water back into process or domestic use. It also provided an option to select the technical system facilitating achievement of ZLD. In other words, ZLD could be attained by recycling or by achieving no discharge at all by use of appropriate technology. Similarly, the CPCB on 5th February, 2014 had directed the State Boards to further direct the 17 categories of the industries which were highly/grossly polluting industries in Ganga River Basin States to install CETPs, common bio-medical waste treatment facility, common treatment storage, disposal facility of hazardous waste and to install online monitoring system covering 13 effluent parameters in relation to pH, BOD, COD, TSS, Flow, Chromium, Ammoniacal Nitrogen, Fluoride, Phenol, Cyanide, Temperature, AOx and 8 technical parameters, PM, CO, Fluoride, NOx, SO2, Cl2, HCl and NH3. In the directions, values thereof were even provided.

  1. During the course of hearing, all these aspects raised serious controversies. Some of the stakeholders including (P.341) the Industries Association, particularly, All India Distillery Association vehemently objected to the enforcement of these directions. Vide its order dated 17th February, 2016, the Tribunal noticed the presence of the various Associations like sugar, textile, tannery industries, etc.,which were provided time to submit their written submissions in relation to attainment of ZLD and installation of online monitoring system if ordered across the board.In response to this, written submissions were filed on behalf of the various stakeholders as well as the Industries Associations. We may briefly examine the same. The challenges to ZLD on behalf of the All India Distillery Association is that the UPPCB had issued ZLD directions to member industries of the association on 4th March, 2015 stipulating Concentration and Incineration as the only option available to industries. It is stated that the CPCB and UPPCB had not considered the negative environment impacts, burden on natural resources, economic unviability, high capital cost and long term sustainability of the directions. It is stated that the directions would result in increase in the emission levels and substantially cause air pollution from pollutants such as PM 2.5, PM 10, RSPM, NOx, SOx and Hydro Carbons. The energy required for concentration system would be un-economical and at the same time would consume huge quantity of water, (P.342) additional effluents generation as MEE. The concentrated distillery effluents incinerators are very inefficient in stalk emission norms as Electro Static Separators are not installed due to technical feasibility and specifically high moisture in flue gases. The directions would result in substantial increase in greenhouse gases. Distillery effluent is a rich source of BOD and COD, which can be anaerobically treated to generate methane gas. Control line application is one of the most plausible feasibility options that should be provided. It has been practiced in various countries including Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia, etc. One Time Controlled Land Application (OTCLA) should be applied instead of ‘Ferti-Irrigation’ as earlier directed by the Board. OTCLA would be applied in a controlled manner through tankers and shall be once in 3 to 5 years depending on the soil nutritional deficiency, rainfall patterns, groundwater levels and soil characteristics. According to the affidavit filed on behalf of the Industries Association, it is also stated that it acknowledges the cooperation of the CPCB in allowing Bio-composting as an alternative method of achieving ZLD. The bio-composting and use of spent wash for agriculture is most environmental friendly and ecologically sustainable technology as it records the waste as a source and prescribes a policy shift. The CPCB estimates that an addition of ? 6–8 per liter of product cost shall be escalated (P.343) by installing the systems of MEE, RO+MEE with incineration. There would be different criteria for different areas in the country.

The MoEF&CC had filed an affidavit dated 4th November, 2016. It has been in compliance to the directions issued by the Tribunal. It is stated that ZLD is not insisted for those tanneries which are connected with CETPs. Any tannery unit attached with CETPs shall achieve the inlet and treated effluent quality standards as per notification dated 1st January, 2016. The stipulation of ZLD has been proposed for large scale units in environmentally sensitive/critical areas based on the approval of CPCB. Similarly, directions have been issued for large scale units of Textile Industries in relation to ZLD. It was intended to introduce self-regulation. It is also stated with regard to the concept of ZLD that there is no discharge of processed wastewater from the premises of the industries. It is to permit water resource by reuse, recycle and recovery to the extent possible. Similar stand has been taken by the MoWR. The UPPCB also filed a detailed affidavit answering the issue whether ZLD can be applied across the board in respect of all industries. It was stated that ZLD cannot be applied to all industries in segment-B. In relation to distillery units, after applying ZLD technology, the industries have become ZLD units. This seems to be factually incorrect. In relation to Sugar Industries, it is (P.344) stated that notification has been issued providing the standards for discharge of treated effluent on the land. In respect of Textile Industries, the Notification dated 10th October, 2016 has been laid down and ZLD has not been insisted upon. In respect of Paper and Pulp Industries, no final notification has been issued and as per the Charter, the Paper and Pulp units which are using agro base as raw material has to treat black liquor and they could become ZLD with Chemical Recovery Plant, where black liquor is concentrated and evaporated. For tanneries, draft Notification dated 10th October, 2016 has been issued for comments and no final notification has yet been issued. The MoWR has issued a Notification dated 7th October, 2016 issued under section 24 of the Act of 1986 where it has been stated that every endeavour will be made to ensure that uninterrupted flow of water is maintained at all the times in the river and no person shall discharge any treated or untreated sewage into river Ganga, its tributaries or on its bank, directly or indirectly. Similarly, restriction has been placed on industrial waste, biomedical waste or any hazardous substance.

  1. It needs to be noticed that there is contradiction in terms, not only between the two Notifications issued by the MOWR and MOEF&CC dated 7th October, 2016 and 10th October, 2016, respectively but also the principal statute, i.e., Water Act. The MoWR has issued a Notification dated (P.345) 7th October, 2016 which requires that no person shall discharge directly or indirectly any treated or untreated sewage or sewage sludge into river Ganga, its tributaries or its bank. Similarly, it also prohibits discharge of treated or untreated trade effluent and industrial waste, bio-medical waste or other hazardous substance both directly or indirectly into river Ganga or its tributaries or their banks. On the other hand, the Notification issued by MoEF&CC dated 10th October, 2016, provides that the treated effluent as well as sewage could be discharged into the water bodies provided it satisfies prescribed standards. The Notification, particularly, in relation to the Textile Industries prescribes the standards and states that in case of direct disposal into river or in the lake, stringent standards could be provided to the satisfied standards, as already noticed on similar lines the draft Notification in relation to Tannery Industry. The provisions of the Water Act specifically permits discharge of trade effluents on land, drains, water bodies and other places if it specifies the prescribed norms. The Notification issued by MoWR, thus places a complete prohibition on discharge of sewage or trade effluent, which in terms is contrary to the statutory provisions of the Water Act and the Notification issued by the MoEF&CC in terms of Environmental Protection Act, 1986. The Notification issued by MoWR can thus hardly be given effect to and the ZLD concept (P.346) proposed can hardly be complied across the Board. What probably was intended under the Notification of 7th October, 2016 was ZLD of the industrial units by ensuring recycle and reuse of effluents for irrigation, horticulture, industrial and cooling purposes. The other Notification provides a relaxation completely to various kinds of industries in relation to the effluent that such group of industries discharge. The Notification issued by MoWR cannot override the provisions of the Water Act, Environmental Protection Act, 1986 and other statutory Notifications. However, this Notification would have to be given its plausible meaning by holding that it suggests ZLD in the above terms but does not absolutely prohibit the discharge of the industrial trade effluent, i.e., inconsonance with the prescribed standards. If the Notification is given in literal interpretation it may result in shutting down of large number of industries in the country, that certainly does not seem to be the intent of the Notification, particularly, in face of the enacted law by the Parliament. The purpose is to achieve the prescribed trade effluent and preferably means for recycle, reuse thereof, unless the conditions of the Consent to Operate order specifically provide for installation of devices like incineration or evaporation.

  1. At this stage, we may also refer to the compliance statement filed on behalf of the MoEF&CC and CPCB, (P.347) jointly, in furtherance to the Chamber meeting of 8th July, 2016. The issue afore-referred was fully clarified in its minutes of meeting, filed on 3rd August, 2016. It is stated that ZLD refers to installation of facilities and systems to enable the industrial effluents for recycling and converting solute into residue into solid by adopting method of concentration and thermal evaporation. Draft standards have also been spelled out by the Ministry, which were to be put up on the website inviting comments of the people. It was stated that in the case of ZLD there will be no discharge and upto 97% water can be recovered by reuse in the process. There would be salt generation of 4 tonnes per MLD, which can be recovered for reuse and would meet the prescribed standards. While the conventional treatment system would leave discharge into surface water bodies or use for irrigation releasing high TDS. It is also convenient to operate and maintain the treated effluents which can be used for irrigation purposes after compliance. Comments were also submitted with regard to online monitoring system with the purpose to create self regulation standards and comply with the stipulation. In furtherance to the order of the Tribunal dated 17th February, 2016, the association of industries were also directed to make representation to the CPCB and they were to be commented upon by the Central Pollution Control Board and record was to be placed before the Tribunal. The (P.348) representation from sugar sector, tannery sector and distillery sector were also received by the Board. Common argument was that and the raw distillery effluent if directly concentrated and incinerated, would not give beneficial results. It would lead to wastage of energy produced from non-renewal sources besides loss of nutrients present in the spent wash. Bio-composting, concentration or incineration had not been tested and proven to be correct and environment friendly. The cost of the technology is very high, therefore, economically not viable. It would be impossible for the industries to adhere to this technology.Probably treated effluents could easily be used for irrigation purpose. The Small Scale Industries are not capable of meeting the ZLD and therefore, CETP would be the proper remedy. Primarily, the comments of the Boards were primarily that the incinerator or bio-composting or insulation for spent wash and disposal is optional for the industries. Some industries have adopted this technology. A minimum quality specification of the finished compost is essential to ensure that the industries practice Biocomposting properly following the protocol and utilisation of finished compost in agriculture. The industries in any case should achieve the standards as per the Notification of 1st January, 2016 and textile units should be attached to CETPs. The remnant of treated effluent should be allowed to be discharged into river only after exhausting it 349 upon reuse for irrigation.

  1. From the above discussion, on advantages and disadvantages of the ZLD, it is evident that ZLD cannot be adopted across the board. It must have rationality as its sole criteria, should be unit centric and industry specific oriented. The Sugar or Distillery Industries may be of a huge capacity say discharging 100 MLD per day. They could be a Sugar Industry or Distillery Unit with 10 MLD discharge and thus a very small-scale unit. To apply same yardstick to all would not be feasible and result oriented. They should be assessed on their own performance and function, however, ensuring in all the situations that the effluents permitted to be discharged on land/drain, etc. should be strictly adhering to the prescribed norms. The Board in its advisory capacity may be able to suggest or guide as to the integral technology, which may be feasible for the industries for attaining the prescribed norms. To impose ZLD on such industries would neither be fair nor just. In fact, it will not be in consonance with the requirement of law under relevant Acts. An industry should be permitted to operate, subject to grant of Consent to Operate, by the concerned Board. The CPCB has the competency under law to issue directions under Section 18 of the Water Act. The purpose of empowering Boards with certain powers is to restrict and control pollution. It is not expected from the Boards to stop the natural growth or (P.350) restrict industries from operating but compliance to the environmental laws is fundamental to exercise of their powers. The Board must take into consideration of the aspects including technology, financial viability, limitations of the unit, process adopted by the industries but in all events ensuring that the discharge of effluents from the unit has to be strictly in compliance with the prescribed standards. No industries, big or small can be permitted to pollute the groundwater, drains, water bodies and environment.

To put it simply, the ZLD directives cannot be applied across the board. On the one hand, it would be violative of the rights of the parties while on the other would not be in consonance with the provisions of the relevant environmental acts. ZLD should be applied on case to case basis. The concerned boards should exercise its technical know-how to issue appropriate directions in that behalf. The ultimate purpose is prevention and control of pollution and not an internal management of the plant. Effluent discharge must be strictly within the prescribed norms and the Board in appropriate cases could issue directions with regard to recycle, reuse of the treated effluent appropriately. The ZLD as inferred from the notification dated 7th October, 2016 is incapable of being enforced across the Board without reference to the member industries and other relevant aspects afore-stated. (P.351)

  1. Similarly, the Online Monitoring System or Continuous Emission Monitoring System should also be applied on case-to-case basis with reference to the facts and circumstances of the given unit. They must be practicable, for instance, if there is a tannery unit which has consent for processing of hides at a day to be expected to become ZLD or to install Online Monitoring System or Continuous Emission Monitoring System would be opposed to any accepted principles of technology and safeguards of economic advancement. They would be compelled to operate and discharge their effluents only and strictly as per the prescribed norms in default. They would be liable to be shutdown. Another consequential issue that arises in this context, there has to be a specialised, technically sound and dedicated mechanism with every board including CPCB which monitors entire input of Online Monitoring System or Continuous Emission Monitoring System. This monitoring should include not only collection of data but to ensure that actions taken in default and operational deficiencies in the units are rectified within the prescribed time, failing which the unit should be ordered to be closed. The concept of self regulation would achieve its object, only when there is an effective supervisory control. There have been serious and noticeable drawbacks, deficiencies, and omissions in regulatory regimes else, the current state of industrial (P.352) clusters, drains, tributaries of the river would not have been prejudicial to such an extent. Continuous calibration by CPCB to ensure that the online monitoring system shows the correct values and it must be compared with the actual effluent analysis collected by the Board on regular intervals.

 

Filed in: Laws and Procedures

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply