An environment surveillance squad will now keep a close watch on industrial units causing pollution in Eloor and Edayar regions in Kochi.

The State Pollution Control Board (PCB) has given the green signal to launch the squad.

The proposal to introduce a monitoring group was mooted by the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee (SCMC) on Hazardous Waste.

In its proposal, the committee suggested that select local residents should be appointed as wardens for environmental surveillance. They should take note of the illegal dumping of hazardous wastes by industrial units.

A High Power Committee (HPC) constituted by the Supreme Court had suggested that members of alert and informed community who were aware of the nature of hazards and its impact on their health could help protect and save the natural resources.

It had also referred to a law enacted in the United States in the wake of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, namely, Emergency Planning and Community Right to Act, 1986, which requires preparation of emergency response plans by the companies with involvement of the local community.

Access to records

Access to public records with the environment protection authorities should be freely allowed to the public, as the right to a healthy environment has been defined as part of the Right to Life under Article 21 of the Constitution. Relevant information should be displayed on notice boards and newspapers and communicated through radio, television and the Internet.

All industries, involved in hazardous chemicals and generating hazardous wastes, should display on-line data on quantity and nature of hazardous chemicals used in the plant.

The information has to be put up outside the factory gate.

Members of the environment surveillance squad will have the right to inspect industrial units in Eloor-Edayar industrial belt. Officials of the State PCB will also be members of the squad.

They can collect samples of waste generated in units for analysis. Squad members will also check whether industries are dumping waste into the Periyar River.