Industrial effluents polluting Gujarat rivers, says forum

Pollution contents were 300 to 1,000 per cent more than the norms

The Gujarat Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, a voluntary organisation working for environmental protection, has come out with startling facts on how the badly treated industrial effluents are being dumped in the major rivers in the State and in the sea.

The rivers include the Narmada, Mahisagar, Sabamarti and Damanganga and the sea outlet is in the Gulf of Cambay.

Samiti convener Rohit Prajapati said all the shocking figures about the pollution contents in the sewage disposal had been obtained from the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) and the Central Pollution Control Board through the Right to Information Act.

He said that in most cases it was found that the pollution contents were about 300 per cent to over 1,000 per cent more than the norms set by the GPCB and even the effluent treatment plants set up by the State or the Central governments were malfunctioning dumping huge quantities of pollutants in the rivers or the sea as well as afflicting the local population.

He pointed out that in the wake of the Bhopal gas disaster when many affected people and voluntary organisations approached the court of law, the government woke up to the situation and at the intervention of the courts, tried to enforce measures for the treatment of effluents before discharging them in the public places.

But under pressure from the industries, the “polluter pays” theory was given the go-by and in most of the cases the industrial units discharging pollutants were made to pay only 20 per cent of the cost with the remaining 80 per cent coming from the general tax payers, the State and Central government funds and the financial institutions.

The industrial houses did not even bother to maintain the treatment plants or expand its capacity when the load increased. The GPCB kept on issuing notices, but no one ever bothered about violation of its norms and the Board remained a silent spectator doing nothing to make the industrial houses bend.

A legal notice issued by the GPCB to a waste and effluent management company at Sarigam in Bulsar district show the helplessness of the government-controlled body.

The notice, issued on December 4 last, pointed out that the concentrations such as the Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD), Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD), Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), Chloride, Ammoniacal Nitrogen, Phenolic Compound, Sulphides, Zinc and other pollutants in the effluents dumped in Tadgam village were much higher than the prescribed norms of the Board.

And yet neither any remedial measure had so far been taken by the company nor did the board take any follow-up action.

The GPCB sources admitted that the wastes discharged in the Damanganga from the Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CEPT) of the industrial houses in Vapi contained 347 per cent more COD, 432 per cent more TDS and 196 per cent more Ammoniacal Nitrogen, a serious health hazard, compared to the GPCB prescribed norms.

The conditions were worse in Ankleshwar which carry into the Gulf of Cambay 248 per cent more COD and 1,328 per cent more Ammoniacal Nitrogen.

The effluent channel project of Vadodara dumping waste water into the estuary of the Mahisagar was found to be carrying 300 to 700 per cent more than the prescribed norms of COD, BOD, Ammoniacal Nitrogen, TDS, Cyanide, phenols and other hazardous pollutants.

The pollution contents in the effluents dumped in the Sabarmati from the industrial estates in Vatva, Odhav and Naroda around Ahmedabad city were found to be alarmingly high, 2,926 per cent more of COD, 2,520 per cent more of Ammoniacal Nitrogen and 780 per cent more of TDS.

The much-touted Rs.131-crore Final Effluent Treatment Plant (FETP) — constructed with the State and the Central governments and the State-owned Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation contributing over Rs.109 crore and the defaulting industries a mere Rs.21 crore, and inaugurated by Chief Minister Narendra Modi in January 2007 for treatment of water wastes of Ankleshwar, Panoli and Jhagadia chemical industrial estates — was found to be equally in a pathetic condition.


Public transport to fight global warming: Gujarat CM

Ahmedabad: More people should use public transport to save future generations from dangers of global warming, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi said here today.

“Global warming is a major threat facing the world today. There is a need to cut down the use of vehicles and increase the use of public transport,” Modi said while inaugurating the second edition of the Kankaria Carnival here.

“To save the future generation from global warming, public transport system like Bus Rapid Transport System (BRTS), is a solution,” he said.

Modi had also inaugurated the second phase of the BRTS which connects the east and west parts of the city.

“I appeal to the people of the city that this BRTS should become part of their lives, and more and more people should start using it,” he said.

Modi appreciated cleanliness maintained in vicinity of Kankaria Lake.

“Last year over 50 lakh people including politicians, bureaucrats and diplomats visited the Kankaria lake. They all found it clean and well maintained. This is amazing that people equal to the population of the city visited the lake in last one year,” Modi said.

This has revived the past identity of Ahmedabad and its heritage which the people of the city have inherited, he added.

From PTI

Veraval: Whale shark rescued off Sutrapada coast

VERAVAL (JUNAGADH): Expressing solidarity with the state government’s efforts to protect whale sharks, fishermen rescued a 20-feet-long whale shark from their net off Sutrapada port. This is the third shark rescued in the past fortnight.

Forest department officials said, the incident occurred on Friday when the whale shark was found caught in the net of a boat owned by Ratilal Bariya, some 18 nautical miles off Dhamlej port near Sutrapada. “The shark was 20-feet-long and weighed 3 tonnes. It’s body was entangled in six fishing nets,” said a range forest officer from Veraval.

After noticing the shark, Bariya informed Veraval port, which in turn, alerted the forest department. A team of foresters rushed to the site in a boat and carried out the rescue operation. Earlier, whale sharks were similarly rescued on December 1 and November 23.

From TOI

Surat: Walk with sharks & dolphins

SURAT: The thrill of navigating through a see-through tunnel on a travelator with sharks, dolphins and other fish hovering over you will be a reality for Surtis and people of Gujarat, most of whom have seen this sight in places like Singapore.

A marine tunnel aquarium is what Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) has planned and with all ground work having been done for the first of its kind in the country, the tunnel is likely to come up here in 18 to 24 months time. “We are looking at the possibility of a 66 or 100 metre long snake shaped tunnel,” said Mukesh Dalal, chairman, SMC standing committee.

“Central Marine Fish Research Institute (CMFRI), Kochi, has been appointed as consultant for the project and they have submitted the draft bids to SMC,” he added.

“All presentations are ready as conceptual permission is obtained from competent authority but the allotment of the fund would be done in the coming year’s budget,” said mayor Ranjit Gilitwala.

Estimated cost of the project is Rs 15 crore and could go up if SMC opts for a longer tunnel, said DC Gandhi, in-charge engineer and garden cell project chief of SMC.

SMC already has 25,722 sq mt space at Jagdishchandra Bose Udyan in Adajan where first phase of the proposed aquarium project is coming up. To be made up of imported acrylic sheets, the tunnel would be 4 metre broad.

“Bids for this would be invited from abroad as no one does this in India. Also the size of the tunnel is yet to be decided and would depend on the cost factor and geographical conditions,” said Dalal. “We saw such an aquarium in Singapore and were inspired by it,” said Gilitwala.

In the first phase, a shark pool will be constructed. It will be about 18 to 20 feet high, 40 feet long and 30 feet wide, said S Aparna, municipal commissioner.

From TOI

Eco-Tourism: Bhadra, Gandhi Ashram to be walking zones by 2011

AHMEDABAD: The state government got serious about congestion and conservation issues and has declared a deadline of two years to turn the Bhadra Fort area and Sabarmati Ashram area into pedestrian zones.

This was announced by state minister for tourism Jay Narayan Vyas at the third edition of Gujarat Tourism Summit hosted by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) on Saturday. Sabarmati Ashram is a big draw among foreign tourists and there have been several plans to turn it into a silence zone by diverting traffic.

Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) has already announced a Rs 50-crore project to develop Bhadra Plaza, stretching from the 600-year-old Bhadra Fort to Teen Darwaza, as a walking tour destination.

The current congestion at Bhadra will soon give way to a pedestrian walkway and ethnic food restaurants and is expected to become a cultural centre.

In his presiding address, Vyas said, “Gujarat has been achieving significant growth in tourist arrivals since 2005. This growth has been based on the promotion of events such as Vibrant Gujarat, Navratri festival, International Kite Festival and Modhera Dance Festival”.

CII has targeted 1 million international tourists and 41 million domestic tourists by 2015.

Vyas added that the government would invest Rs 500 crore at Ambaji and Saputara in coming three years and promote Ambaji as a pilgrimage centre comparable to Vaishnodevi and Tirupati.

During the summit, participants pointed out a few issues like need to establish more budget hotels, create special tourism zones, develop eco-tourism, theme-based tourism, rural tourism and night life.

Buddhist conference in Vadodara

The state government will host the International Buddhist Conference from January 15 to 17 in Vadodara to promote Buddhist tourism since Gujarat has some valuable relics of Lord Buddha, said state minister for tourism Jay Narayan Vyas.


Storm brewing in Arabian Sea, cyclone alert sounded

AHMEDABAD/NEW DELHI: All fingers are crossed and eyes are on the storm as the weather office on Tuesday sounded a cyclone alert for the coastal region of south Gujarat where it is expected to make a landfall in early hours of Thursday. Currently the depression is lying 400 km off the coast of Goa. ( Watch Video )

Weather scientists are tracking a deep depression formed in the southeast and adjoining central Arabian Sea, which is moving in the northwest direction and is likely to hit south Gujarat. “The system is likely to intensify further into a cyclonic storm and is expected to cross south Gujarat and north Maharashtra coast between Mahuva and Dahanu by early hours of November 12,” an alert issued by the India Meteorological Department said.

The system is likely to give heavy rainfall and cause damaging impact if it intensifies into a cyclone. It is currently moving at 45 kmph and is expected to intensify with the wind speed going up to 75 kmph. IMD, Gujarat director Kamaljeet Ray said the state government has been alerted, cyclone warnings issued and fishermen asked to remain off the sea. “We are monitoring the developments closely and a fresh alert will be issued on Wednesday,” Ray said. While cyclones are common in Bay of Bengal in this time of the year, cyclones in the Arabian Sea are rare, officials said.

Due to deep depression, coastal parts of Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra are expected to experience squally winds with speed of up to 75 km per hour over the next two days.

Sea condition will be very rough over Lakshadweep area, along and off Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra coasts, it said.


India: Gujarat bans plastic bags in 10 towns

GANDHINAGAR: The Gujarat government has imposed a ban on sale and use of gutkha and plastic bags in 10 temple towns and pilgrimage centres with immediate effect.