News

Gujarat Government Legitimises Environmental rules Violation

Gujarat Government Legitimises Environmental rules Violation
Adam Hallidya, Tanvir Siddique, Ahmedabad, 20th September 2011.

Govt set to reduce buffer zone limits to 100 metres

 More comes after construction of residential complexes in Naroda and Vatav Industrial Area.
By Adam Hallidya, Tanvir Siddique, Ahmedabad, 20th September 2011.

The state government has decided to reduce the range of buffer zones around hazardous waste storage facilities in Gujarat from 500 metres to 100 metres. 

A resolution to this effect from the Urban Development (UD) department is expected in the next few days, top officials said. 

The move comes in the wake of several residential complexes having come up close to the Common 

Hazardous Waste TSDFs (Treatment Stabilisation Disposal Facilities) in the Naroda and Vatva industrial areas. 

The move assumes significance as building anything within 500 metres of these TSDFs and Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CETPs) is not allowed anywhere in the country by the Central Pollution Control Board because the industrial waste stored in these facilities may leak, causing harm to human life. 

S K Nanda, Principal Secretary, Environment and Forests (E&F) department, said, “New TSDFs and CETPs will follow the 500-metre buffer zone rule, but all the existing ones will have reduced buffer zone of 100 metres. The decision was taken because many projects have already come up (within 500 metres of these facilities) and some are in the pipeline or have been sanctioned that people have paid money for.” 

He added that borewells would, however, be strictly prohibited in the complexes that come up in the 500-metre radius of these facilities and supplied piped water. 

Nanda said a meeting was held between the E&F department, various municipal corporations and the UD department, and the minutes of that meeting have been approved. 

While Urban Development Secretary I P Gautam declined to comment, top officials said the department would soon pass a Government Resolution officially authorising the reduction of buffer zone. 

The resolution would also contain strict guidelines that green cover be maintained in the 100-metre radius to make the buffer zone visible and there is no encroachment. 

Besides the ban on borewells in the 500-metre radius, a two-km radius would also be regularly checked for soil and groundwater contamination, they said. 

There are currently eight TSDFs and 26 CETPs that are supported by the government in the state. 

Officials said there are about seven more private TSDFs and over 5,000 private effluent treatment plants, while seven more ommon Effluent Treatment Plants are in the pipeline. 

Environmentalist who raised the issue cries foul

Vadodara-based environmentalist Rohit Prajapati, who was the first to raise the issue of residential complexes coming up in the buffer zones of TSDFs in November 2010, said he was deeply disappointed and angered by the decision reduce the range. 

“This is nothing but manipulation of environmental norms to legalise illegal projects. It shows powerful people can pressurise the government to do illegal modifications to legalise their illegal activities,” he said. 

“All this would not have happened if the government was vigilant enough to detect these constructions or acted upon his complaints since the constructions were still nascent and no one had occupied the flats as yet,” added Prajapati.