Could there be more damning evidence? According to the audit report of the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India (Civil) for the year ended March 2010, there are 377 industrial units operating without air pollution control systems and 504 without effluent treatment plants (ETP) in Bangalore Urban district.
The CAG said that the operating these industries without ECS (emission control systems) and ETP indicate failure of the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board in enforcing these units to comply with norms. These industries are contravening the provisions of the Air and Water Acts. Besides, the KSPCB issued consent to such industries without ensuring compliance, thereby failing to discharge its duties as an enforcer, it said.
Frequency of inspection of industries prescribed by the Environment Ministry varies according to the classification of industries, such as Red (highly polluting), Orange (moderately polluting) and Green (least polluting).
While the number of industries granted consent under the Water Act in Bangalore is 8,029 as on March 2010, those coming under the Air Act add up to 7,427.
The KSPCB furnishes category-wise details only of industries covered by the Air Act. There are 1,556, 784 and 5,087 units under these categories, respectively under Air Act.
The Ministry had prescribed the frequency of inspections for small-scale industries and large and medium industries under three categories. It is once in three months or a year for units coming under Red category; once in six months to three years for those under Orange category; and one year or three years (random check) for units under Green category.
The CAG said that the Ministry had permitted the board to improve the frequency when necessary. Instead, it had reduced the frequency for Orange and Green categories.
The number of inspections required to be conducted during 2005-10 for the industries under Air Act even at the reduced scale fixed by the board for SSIs was 7,780, 784 and 50,087 for Red, Orange and Green categories, respectively.
Against this, only 186 air stack samples had been collected. When confronted with the data, the KSPCB admitted that there was a requirement for more inspections. It had given priority to complaints and Red category industries.
Rejecting this, the CAG said that the board is mandated to inspect the industries at the prescribed intervals and not to show only a reactive response.
The audit observed that of 2,162 industrial effluent samples and 30 air sack samples tested by the board during 2008-10, 58 per cent and 30 per cent of the two tested categories did not conform to the prescribed standards. As a large number of samples did not comply with the standards, the shortfall in inspection of industries assumes significance, the CAG concluded.