CETPs: in fashion

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Pollution from small-scale industries has grown by leaps and bounds. So, building common effluent treatment plants (cetps) has become a fashion. The Union ministry of environment and forests (mef) has instructed state pollution control boards to set up cetps in industrial estates. Central assistance of 25 per cent is given, but only on the condition of matching grants from the state government. The rest has to come from industries and financial institutions.

By 2002, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (cpcb), 53 plants have been built across the country and another 83 projects are in various stages of completion (see table: Working on waste). The first plants were set up to treat tannery wastes in Vaniyamvadi in Tami Nadu; textile wastes in the desert towns of Pali and Balotra; and industrial waste in the Jeedimetla estate near Hyderabad. In all these cases, land and water had turned noxious because of the effluents of small and cash-strapped industries. Since then there has been no looking back.

In Delhi, pushed by the Supreme Court (sc), the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (dpcc) entered into an agreement with the Nagpur-based National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (neeri) to conduct a survey and suggest the measures to be adopted for treating waste in the pathetically filthy industrial estates of the city. The pollution from these estates is partly responsible for the pollution of the Yamuna. In typical unprepared haste, neeri suggested 15 cetps to cover the 28 industrial estates of Delhi. The Delhi State Industrial Development Corporation (dsidc) was entrusted with the task of construction of these cetps, while the Delhi Jal Board was responsible for constructing the drainage system for conveyance of effluents from the individual industries to the cetps.

By 2002, the estimated cost of construction was over Rs 200 crore. The sc directed that 50 per cent of this cost should be shared between the Union and the Delhi government equally and remaining 50 per cent should be paid by the industrial units. The cost apportionment for individual units was decided under a formula prepared by neeri and approved by the sc. A society was to be registered for each industrial estate and in November 2000, the Delhi assembly passed the Delhi Common Effluent Treatment Plants Act, 2000, to entrust these societies with running the cetps. It also asked for the creation of another