Industrial estates fined for polluting Periyar

KOCHI, AUG. 21. The Supreme Court Monitoring Committee (SCMC) on hazardous waste has decided to levy a collective fine of Rs.2.5 crores on the entire industrial estates of Eloor and Edayar in Kochi for being responsible for the high level of pollution in the Periyar river.

The Committee has made the recommendation in its report, a copy of which is available with The Hindu, submitted to the Kerala Government on the basis of the visits conducted to several industrial units in the State recently, including those at Eloor and Edayar.

The Kerala State Pollution Control Board (PCB) has been asked to ensure that the amount was collected. The fine would be utilised to monitor the health of the river, to create conditions for the re-entry of life in the river and to restore its ecology.

Directive to PCB

The Committee has also directed the PCB to close down all industrial units in the State that have no authorisation to operate under the Hazardous Waste Rules, 1989. Industrial units will not be allowed to reopen until they have the proper facilities to dispose of the hazardous wastes, required under the Rules. The order must be complied with within eight days and a compliance report submitted to the Committee in New Delhi at the expiry of the period.

Relying upon the Supreme Court order dated May 7, 2004 that requires water to be supplied to communities affected by industrial wastes, the Committee directed the State Government and the industrial units of Hindustan Coca-Cola, Binani Zinc, Kerala Mines and Minerals and Kerala Newsprint to ensure that water supply through pipeline is delivered to the houses of all the affected communities in the vicinity of these units. It found the present arrangement of delivering water in tankers or in a few public locations through public taps unacceptable.

The PCB has been directed to set up four committees under its Regional Officers in these places to create a register of persons who have been affected and to ensure that the above companies installed a piped water supply to the houses of all the persons so affected. Action plan for compliance of this direction should be submitted within two weeks and action should be completed within six months, the report said.

Restoring river

In relation to restoring the life of the Periyar, the Committee had already directed the PCB to set up a Local Area Environment Committee (LAEC). The cost of its working should be met by the PCB. Non-official members would be entitled to an honorarium or stipend for their work on the committee. All industrial units would be notified about the formation of the LAEC.