According to SPCB norms, environment cell is a must to get clearance

Institutional response to environment management in mining and industrial sector in the State seems to be in a mess.

Orissa Mining Corporation, the largest State Public Sector, does not have dedicated cells to address environment concerns arising out of its mining operations. Interestingly, the corporation said such cell was not required.

According to State Pollution Control Board, a general condition of the environment clearance is that each industry and mining is required to have its own environment cell.

The display of insouciant approach to general conditions stipulated in environment clearance letters is evident in replies furnished by different entities including the OMC.

Chitta Ranjan Barik, an activist, had gone on asking about existence of environment management cell in industries and mines to SPCB and State-run corporations.

“There is no provision of constituting environment management cell according to Environment Protection Act and Environment Impact Assessment Notification-1994 and 2006, in mines,” the OMC said, responding to the query under RTI Act. The OMC has now 20 operating mines.

Orissa Hydro Power Corporation (OHPC) offered an ambiguous reply to the question as to whether the corporation had constituted environment management cell as per the EIA notification. The OHPC said, “As and when required, the said type of work has been managed by Human Resource Development wing.”

Paradip Port Trust gave a guarded response, saying the environment management work had been outsourced as experts in different fields were not available.

The Orissa Power Generation Corporation (OPGC) seemed to be the exception. The corporation said it had constituted environment management cell according to EIA notification. The OPGC had in fact a cell manned by technical persons and a full-fledged environment monitoring laboratory to test emission parameters, effluent parameters, ambient air quality and noise.

“The State-run corporations at least should have met conditions stipulated in EIA notifications. It shows the indifferent approach of industries towards environment concerns,” said Mr. Barik.

Earlier, the SPCB, to a RTI query, said that there was a general condition that every industry should have its own environment management cell.

The pollution watchdog said that, “It is presumed that all the industries must be having their environment cells as it is a condition of consent to establish. The SPCB does not maintain an inventory of the environment cells in existing industries.”

Need for coordination

“An effective environment cell should be made operational in each industrial project. In fact the cell would make SPCB's job easier. Proper coordination between SPCB and cell would solve the pollution issue before it becomes critical,” said Bijay Mishra, an environmental researcher.

  • Environment management work has been outsourced, says Paradip Port Trust
  • An inventory of the environment cells is not maintained, says SPCB