NGT decision on Kanpur tanneries hailed
The tribunal, while passing an order on a bunch of petitions on Tuesday, asked all industrial units to provide details of steps taken to curb pollution level to the joint inspection team, comprising experts from Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB), Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and IIT-Kanpur by June 6. "We welcome the step taken by NGT, which has granted permission to all the 98 units to carry out operations, as a trial run from June 7 to June 25. During this period, the joint inspection team will visit and collect samples of effluents discharged from these units," informed Hafizur Rehman, president of Small Tannners Association.
Rehman further said that the tannery owners will strictly follow the norms and assist the inspection team in collecting the samples of discharged effluents. "We will also ensure installation of electro-magnetic flow meters to study water consumption as well as discharge of effluents at all the units," he said.
However, he stated, as the owners of most of the closed factories are small players, it would not be so easy for them to complete the norms particularly of chrome recovery plant within the stipulated time.
The Board had asked presence of chrome at the rate of 2mg per litre but at present it was high and was of 45 mg level.
He said that efforts would be made that discharge would be according to norms when tanneries would release their discharge in the river.
In its order the NGT had asked the tannery owners to upgrade their system by June 6, as special teams of Central and state pollution control boards would monitor the functioning and discharge separately between June 7 to June 25. The special committees would, thereafter, furnish their report before the NGT. The NGT after perusal of reports would order separately for each tannery whether it has to be open or closed.
The NGT has asked the tanneries operators to follow the standards of NGT and if they continue to violate pollution norms, then their unit would be closed.
In the month of February, a team of National Green Tribunal had inspected tanneries and secondary treatment plant at Wajidpur. The team had also collected water samples from factories and hand-pumps installed in localities of Jajmau and Sikhpur village and interacted with locals. The team was accompanied by representatives of UP Pollution Control Board (UPCB) and Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Union ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) and National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA).
Finally, NGT had ordered to close 98 tanneries in February.
Tannery workers and owners had first staged dharna and demonstration against the NGT's order and later met chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and urged him to take appropriate action.
NGT had ordered to reopen seven tanneries on May 19, during the hearing when they stated that they had installed required equipment to meet the set standard to check the pollution in river.
The tribunal on that day had fixed next date for hearing as May 26 and on Tuesday it heard the case. Vijay Bahadur, advocate general of UP, appeared on behalf of UP government and apprised that the state government had prepared short- and long-term modernization plans for the Jajmau treatment plant and would spent a sum of Rs 500 crore and Rs 800 crore respectively.
At present Jal sansthan has installed a 26 mld treatment plant at Jajmau. The state government would establish two new plants and in this respect, it has allocated a sum of Rs 9 crore to prepare a detailed project report.
Tannery owners also appeared before the tribunal court and assured that they would follow the set standards and install necessary equipments to check the pollution.
Executive member of All India Environmental Sustainability Committee for Tanneries Asad Kamal and member of Leather Council Board Javed Iqbal informed that NGT had ordered to reopen the closed tanneries with a direction to install necessary equipment in machineries so that pollution could be checked.
Earlier, president of Small Tanners Association had said that the closed tanneries had already applied for consent (licence) in December 2014. NGT had allegedly not heard their submission and ordered to shut tanneries. He also claimed that not a single tannery was discharging its waste in the Ganga.