The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has lifted the moratorium imposed on consideration of new projects for environmental clearance in Cuddalore and Coimbatore industrial clusters, declared critically polluted last year.
In January 2010, the MoEF had imposed a moratorium on new projects in the critically polluted areas of Manali, SIPCOT industrial complexes in Ranipet and Cuddalore and SIDCO industrial cluster in Kurichi in Coimbatore, till August.
The moratorium was based on the Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index (CEPI) score arrived at by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in association with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), New Delhi.
In the State, Vellore, Cuddalore, Manali and Coimbatore clusters were declared critically polluted with ranks of eight, 16, 20 and 34 at the national level.
Incidentally, the CEPI scores were Vellore (81.73), Cuddalore (77.45), Manali (76.32) and Coimbatore (72.38).
Any cluster with a CEPI score of over 70 was critically polluted and the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) was asked not to grant licences to new units. Now, the MoEF has lifted the moratorium on Cuddalore and Coimbatore as the CEPI score has fallen below 70, officials in environment department said.
After the moratorium, the TNPCB went to work holding discussions with each and every factory in these industrial clusters and chalked out specific action plans to cut down on pollution.
“Unless the CEPI score is below 70, the moratorium can't be lifted as there will be lot of questions raised,” says a TNPCB official. “New projects can come up in both the SIPCOT industrial complex in Cuddalore and SIDCO industrial cluster in Coimbatore,” he said.
In Manali, the petro chemical industries could take more time to bring down the pollution levels, officials said.