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Third party monitoring of polluted industrial clusters now must

New Delhi, April 01, 2011

Chetan Chauhan
Hindustan Times

Industries in the country's 43 worst polluted areas will now have mandatory third party monitoring.

Till now the pollution levels were being monitored by state pollution control boards and there were allegations of corruption to indicate that everything was fine. Third party monitoring has been made mandatory to allay such apprehensions.

The environment ministry issued an instruction in this regard on Friday, while lifting a moratorium on allowing new industries in eight industrial clusters.

The moratorium was lifted after the state governments submitted an action plan to reduce pollution levels in industrial areas such as Ghaziabad, Noida, Faridabad, Indore, Junagadh and Panipat.

A moratorium was imposed on 43 industrial clusters a year ago after pollution levels were found to be very high on the ministry’s Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index. In all, 90 industrial clusters were surveyed.

The index has been opposed by the coal and power ministries, terming it "unscientific" and an impediment in setting new industries.

Despite the opposition, the ministry had prescribed the condition of a detailed action plan after consulting industry bodies for controlling pollution before lifting the moratorium.

"The state pollution control board will monitor the implementation of the action plans as per their schedule and ensure that there is no slippage either in terms of timeframe or activities to be completed relating to the action plan," the ministry order lifting the moratorium said.

What has been introduced for the first time is third party monitoring of pollution levels. It will be done by expert bodies in consultation with local representatives.

To bring transparency in the entire mechanism, the ministry had stipulated mandatory release of the results of third party monitoring for people to know the exact situation. The third party monitoring will be conducted in consultation with local representatives.

"Industrial cluster wise committee comprising of various stakeholders including representatives of locals and experts in relevant fields will be set up to oversee the implementation of the action plans," the order said.

The ministry also said while approving the project that the expert appraisal committees at the Centre and state level will prescribe stringent measures so that environmental quality is not deteriorated further in these areas.

In all, eight conditions have been imposed for allowing new projects to ensure protection of environment.

Highlights

Moratorium was imposed on 43 industrial clusters in March 2009 after a survey by IITs.

Moratorium lifted :
Angul Talchar (Orissa), Faridabad (Haryana), Ghaziabad (Uttar Pradesh), Indore (Madhya Pradesh), Junagadh (Gujarat), Noida (Uttar Pradesh), Panipat (Haryana), Agra (UP), Aurangabad (Maharashtra), Bhavnagar (Gujarat), Cuddalore ( Tamil Nadu), Dombivalli (Maharashtra), Ludhiana (Punjab), Navi Mumbai (Maharashtra) and Varanasi-Mirzapur (UP).

Industrial clusters where moratorium stays:
For the remaining 23 industrial clusters, which are yet to submit action plans, moratorium has been extended till end of September 2011.

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