Special Correspondent

For flouting of Supreme Court's order

VELLORE: The Vellore Citizens Welfare Forum (VCWF) has urged the District Collector of Vellore and the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) to order the closure of tanneries in Vellore district, which did not comply with the orders of the Supreme Court to get the consent of the Board to function and operate with effect from December 15, 1996.

In letters written to the District Collector, the Chairman of the TNPCB and the Chairman of the Loss of Ecology (Prevention of Pollution and Payment of Compensation) Authority, the forum pointed out that in its judgement delivered on August 28, 1996 on a writ petition filed by the VCWF the Supreme Court had stated as follows: “We direct all the tanneries in the districts of Vellore, Erode, Dindigul, Tiruchi and Kancheepuram to set up common effluent treatment plants (CETPs) or individual pollution control devices on or before November 30, 1996. Those connected with CETPs shall have to install primary devices in the tanneries. All tanneries in the above five districts shall obtain the consent of the Board to function and operate with effect from December 15, 1996. The tanneries who are refused consent, or who fail to obtain the consent of the Board by December 15, 1996, shall be closed forthwith”.

The VCWF further stated that the Supreme Court had also ruled that the standard stipulated by the Board regarding the total dissolved solids (TDS) and approved by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) shall be operative, and that all tanneries and other industries in Tamil Nadu shall comply with the said standards.

The apex court had also ruled that the quality of ambient waters has to be maintained through the standard stipulated by the Board. The forum said that the TNPCB had fixed the standard for TDS as 2100 PPM (particles per million), but the TDSin the effluents discharged from tanneries, whether before or after the treatment, have exceeded 12,000 PPM as admitted by the Board in the answer given to the Environment Monitoring Committee, Ambur under the Right To Information Act about two months ago.

The forum said that the TNPCB is bound to obey the direction of the Supreme Court by closing all tanneries without any fear or favour.

The Supreme Court had stated that the Loss of Ecology Authority constituted by the Central government shall implement the ‘precautionary principle' and the ‘polluter pays principle', and that the Authority shall further determine the compensation to be recovered from the polluters as cost of reversing the damage to the environment.

The Supreme Court had directed all the tanneries in Vellore and other districts to pay the fine of Rs.10,000 on or before October 30, 1996 in the office of the District Collector.