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Common effluent treatment plant shut down

18 October 2010

A.V.Ragunathan
The Hindu

Action by TNPCB after Madras High Court order

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Court had cited two reasons for stopping unit's operation, say TNPCB sources

Facility put up without mandatory licence under Environment Protection Act: study

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CUDDALORE: The common effluent treatment facility set up at the SIPCOT Industrial Estate here has been shut down from October 15 following an action taken by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) on the Madras High Court direction.

TNPCB sources told The Hindu that the court had cited two reasons for stopping the unit's operation: first, the marine discharge from the facility did not conform to the pollution control norms, and, second, it was set up without obtaining the mandatory approval from the competent authorities.

With the non-functioning of the facility, the industries attached to it would have to either curtail their production or adopt suitable technologies to conform to the TNPCB standards. The industries might even seek legal remedy to continue their operation, the sources said.

The High Court had taken suo motu notice of a report of the SIPCOT Area Community Environmental Monitors (SACEM a forum of social activists, environmentalists and the local community) released in 2004 about the inefficient operation of the common facility called Cuddalore SIPCOT Industries Common Utilities Ltd (CUSECS). The study stated that the common facility was put up jointly by 19 industries in 2001, that is, 19 years after the industrial complex was established, without the mandatory licence as required under the Environment Protection Act. As of now, hardly nine industries remained within the fold of the CUSECS.

The facility was meant to collect, treat and discharge the effluents by a network of pipelines into the sea off the Rasapettai coastal village. The unit had merely obtained a no-objection certificate from the TNPCB, and was yet to get a "consent to establish" and a "consent to operate" as mandated under the Air and Water Acts.

The Coastal Zone Regulation clearance for the facility, too, was received only in 2005. The analysis of the so-called treated effluents let into the sea had total suspended solids, biochemical oxygen demand and chemical oxygen demand far above the permitted levels.

M. Nizamudeen, who formed part of the SACEM, said that going by the track record of the CUSECS, it was conclusively proved that it had failed to adhere to the pollution control norms.

Hence, the SACEM had called for the dismantling of the common facility. Moreover, the diverse nature of the effluents emanating from the industries needed to be treated in different ways, and hence, it would be only appropriate if an industry-specific effluent management system was put in place.

The SACEM also demanded legal action against those running the CUSECS and the officials who allowed it to operate.

Read SACEM report on CUSECS here:

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