Action plan approved for five ‘critically polluted’ industrial clusters in Karnataka

They are located in Bengaluru, Mangaluru, Bidar, Bhadravati, and Raichur

May 10, 2019 01:04 am | Updated 01:04 am IST - Bengaluru

A file photo of Peenya Industrial Area in Bengaluru. It does not have a common effluent treatment plant, and most industries rely on tankers to dispose effluents.

A file photo of Peenya Industrial Area in Bengaluru. It does not have a common effluent treatment plant, and most industries rely on tankers to dispose effluents.

Under pressure from the National Green Tribunal (NGT), the Centre and State pollution control boards have finally approved action plans to bring down pollution levels in five “critically polluted” industrial clusters in Karnataka, including Peenya in Bengaluru.

The five industrial clusters have been notified as critically or seriously polluted areas under the Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index (CEPI) since 2010. Action plans have been made only for Bhadravati in Shivamogga district with a CEPI score of 72.33 and Baikampady in Mangaluru with a CEPI score of 73.68 after they were identified as “critically polluted” areas. No plans had been drawn so far for Peenya Industrial Area in Bengaluru (CEPI score 65.11), Kolhar Industrial Area, Bidar (CEPI: 67.64), and Raichur Industrial Area (CEPI: 68.07) which have been identified as “severely polluted” areas.

A sixth cluster in Bengaluru, Jigani–Bommasandra (CEPI score of 70.99, which would make it critically polluted) has been identified, but not yet notified as a critically polluted cluster by the Ministry of Environments and Forests (MoEF).

In December 2018, the NGT directed the MoEF to submit action plans for all the 88 industrial clusters in the country by May 31, 2019. This spurred the State-level CEPI overseeing committee, which met in April, after nearly two years, to approve action plans for the remaining industrial estates, excluding Jigani which needs to be first notified by the MoEF.

The action plans, prepared by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) for the clusters include, among other things, effluent treatment plants, underground drainage (UGD) facilities, and interventions in waste management, according to a copy of the proceedings of the meeting that was made public recently.

For Peenya Industrial Area, apart from having already closed 30 contaminated borewells (out of a total of 61), curative measures include remediation of contaminated borewells; seeking an action plan from Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board for strengthening the existing UGD network and providing new UGD facility to prevent discharge of sewage to nearby lakes; and getting the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike to submit an action plan for strengthening storm-water drains and solid waste management in the core and impact zones (Dasarahalli, Abbigere and Laggare). Currently, Peenya does not have a common effluent treatment plant, and most industries rely on tankers to dispose of effluents.

Zero-liquid discharge

During the meeting, the Industries and Commerce Department said that while providing UGD facilities in clusters outside the core areas of Bengaluru was “not feasible” and emphasis would be laid on zero-liquid discharge and in-house treatment of sewage.

These plans would have to be sent to the Centre for approval, said Thirumurthy G., senior scientist, Central Pollution Control Board. “Once the action plans are approved by the MoEF, local area committees, which includes pollution control board officials, will monitor their implementation. Plans include short-term measures, but there are long-term measures which involve studies and multiple departments. The implementation of these plans will considerably lower air and water pollution levels around these areas,” he said.

C. Jayaram, chairman, KSPCB, said this was a continuous process wherein intervention would be planned wherever there is a problem, based on the CEPI scores.

Jigani-Bommasandra to be notified soon

In 2017, under a new criteria, Jigani-Bommasandra was identified as a critically polluted industrial estate, implying that it needed immediate attention for restoration of environmental quality.

Any action, however, can be taken only when it is formally notified by the Ministry of Environment and Forests. “We expect the notification to happen soon, in a few days or weeks,” said Thirumurthy G., senior scientist, Central Pollution Control Board.

While the addition of Jigani is a black mark, the State has something to cheer about in the reduced pollution levels in Bhadravati and Raichur.

Since its notification as a critically polluted industrial cluster — one of the 43 in the country — in 2010, Bhadravati has seen two major industries stop functioning: Mysore Paper Mills and Visvesvaraya Iron and Steel Plant. This has brought down the CEPI score from 72.23 to 45.27. Better environmental monitoring has seen the CEPI score in the Raichur industrial cluster fall from 68.07 in 2017 to 53.42 now. The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) has requested the CPCB to remove Bhadravati and Raichur industrial clusters from the list.

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