Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on Friday approved a $75 million project to help clean-up four polluted sites in preparation to developing a National Plan for Rehabilitation of Pollution Sites.

The ‘Capacity Building for Industrial Pollution Management' project, which is being sponsored by the World Bank, will work on four sites in Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal over the next five years. Ultimately, though, it will support the development of an institutional framework to clean up and rehabilitate such sites, many of them abandoned by the industries which initially polluted the place.

Crafting a national policy on the issue would help sustain benefits beyond the project period. The policy could include the creation of a dedicated fund to be created by State pollution control boards to facilitate the clean-up of such abandoned sites, if the government accepts the recommendations of the Committee to Evolve Road Map on Management of Waste in India.

In its recent report, the Committee outlines what could be one of the key principles of such a National policy. “Remediation strategy needs to focus on the ‘polluter pays principle' with the polluter being asked to pay penalty as well as costs of cleaning up the pollution. Industries causing pollution repeatedly should be blacklisted. Where polluters are not traceable, a dedicated fund needs to be created by SPCB/PCC for remediation,” says the report.

The project aims to build human resources and develop technical capacity within State government bodies to carry out similar projects and protect nearby populations from the risk of contamination. It includes public awareness and community education programmes.

Apart from the environmental benefits such as an improvement in water and air quality, the improved hygienic conditions would also result in health benefits such as reduction in water borne, vector borne diseases.