CAG sees red as green laws are given a short shrift


Says UT lacks a comprehensive programme for pollution control

In a scathing commentary on the lax implementation of environment laws in Puducherry, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has said that there was “no comprehensive programme for the prevention, control or abatement of pollution” in the UT.

The CAG report tabled in the Puducherry Assembly on Thursday also noted that sewage was discharged directly into irrigation canals contaminating water bodies and groundwater and continuous ambient air quality monitoring stations for keeping a tab on vital particulate pollutants were not installed.

The CAG audit of the performance of the Puducherry Pollution Control Committee under the Department of Science, Technology and Environment observed that PPCC had not formulated any comprehensive plan to combat air and water pollution as required under section 17 of the Water/Air Acts.

Significantly, the CAG scrutiny of inspection reports revealed that in the 2010-15 period, there was a shortfall of 80 per cent in inspection of industries categorised as red (once a year), orange (once in three years) and green (once in five years).

The CAG dismissed as “not acceptable” the PPCC’s contention that sampling was necessary only if there was emission or discharge.

The CAG, on test-checking consent/renewal orders issued to 230 out of the 3,278 industries, found that even for the 193 units for which the PPCC furnished data, 32 per cent were either operating without renewing consent or their functional status was not known.

A review of consent orders during 2010-15 showed that out of the total number of industries, only 37 per cent had renewed their consent while 2,332 units were operating without consent.

“In the absence of the consent register, it was observed that the PPCC could not initiate action against the defaulters,” the CAG said.

And when the CAG pointed out that the zonal atlas categorising industry by type had been formulated only for Puducherry and Yanam and not for Karaikal/Mahe, the PPCC contended that the Town and Country Planning Department was preparing a comprehensive development plan for the whole of UT, which would cover land use mapping and stratify industry.

The report stated that laboratories in Puducherry and Karaikal did not have the facilities for conducting microbiological and toxicity tests for water analysis and characterisation of hazardous waster or evaluation of soil/sludge/sediment/solid waste samples as prescribed by the Central Pollution Control Board.

The audit found that contrary to the requirement under section 8 of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977, the PPCC had failed to remit the Rs. 65.44 lakh it collected as water cess to the Consolidated Fund of India. Even accounting for the Government’s reasoning that while cess during 2010-14 was not remitted due to administrative delays and that Rs. 38.49 lakh was indeed remitted in March 2015, the PPCC was yet to remit Rs. 26.95 lakh to the Union Government.

The audit also observed deficiencies in collection of water cess. In the UT, the minimum rate towards collection of water cess from hazardous waste was fixed as Rs. 500 a year. However, audit revealed that out of the 106 hazardous waster industries, the PPCC had not collected water cess from 31 industries between January 2011 and September 2015.

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Printable version | Dec 13, 2019 4:33:14 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/CAG-sees-red-as-green-laws-are-given-a-short-shrift/article14630673.ece

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