Union Environment Ministry had banned projects in the Greater Cochin area

The moratorium for consideration of projects for environmental clearance in Greater Cochin area has been lifted.

While lifting the ban, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest has also prescribed seven steps including monitoring of pollution indexes by the Central and State Pollution Control boards for reducing pollution in the area.

Besides Great Cochin area, the ban on the critically polluted areas of Bhadravati and Mangalore of Karnataka has been lifted in the latest instalment.

The Ministry had slapped the ban in the critically polluted industrial cluster of the State along with a few others in different parts of the country in January 2010 following a Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index (CEPI) prepared by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). Later, the Ministry lifted the ban in some clusters after considering the pollution mitigation measures initiated by the State boards.

The moratorium had affected the growth prospectus of a large number of industrial units in Kochi including the expansion plans of some public sector companies and also the setting up of new ones.

The Union Ministry has directed the CPCB and the State Pollution Control Boards to immediately post the pollution mitigation action plans in their areas on their respective websites. The State Boards will monitor the implementation of the plans and the schedule.

The Central board was asked to develop a monitoring mechanism for overseeing the implementation of action plans and also carry out random checks on the environmental parameters for their quality.

The results of these inspections will have to be posted on the website.

The Ministry has also cautioned that the moratorium will be reimposed if the pollution levels in the areas exceed limit. Periodic monitoring of the levels by independent agencies has also been suggested. According to K. Sajeevan, chairman of the Kerala State Pollution Control Board, all the major industries in the cluster have been asked to form a computer network. This is to enable online access and monitoring of mitigation measures and other related details, he said.

The Kerala Board has formed a local-level committee headed by its member secretary for monitoring the pollution situation in the cluster.

A Common Effluent Treatment Plant has to be set up and the Kerala Water Authority has to take care of the sewage treatment as part of the pollution alleviation measures.

The pollution level in the cluster has come down considerably following the introduction of the mitigation measures, Mr. Sajeevan said.

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