Murky deals

Notwithstanding accusations and criticism within state government agencies themselves, for almost two decades units at the Ankleshwar industrial estate were functioning without drainage connections, releasing effluents onto open grounds all around. For the last two decades, untreated effluents from industrial units at Ankleshwar and Panoli are being released into the Amlakhadi, a tributary of the Narmada ( Down To Earth , Vol 5, No 11). A 1995 report by the Central pollution control board found that consequently, land and groundwater around this tributary were getting polluted.

Protests by the Narmada Pradushan Nivaran Samiti (npns), a residents' organisation, resulted in the gidc and the Ankleshwar Industries Association being ordered to clean up the Amlakhadi. At a cost of Rs 65 lakh, an eight km stretch was cleaned up. In late 1995, the gidc had begun constructing channels for releasing effluents from the Vagra industrial estate in Bharuch district into the Narmada river. After the npns' protests, it was found that the gidc had been constructing the channel without the gpcb 's approval. Even the Bharuch fisheries directorate was not consulted regarding this matter.

The National Environment Engineering Research Institute (neeri), Nagpur, had recommended in 1991 that effluents from the proposed Indian Petrochemicals Corporation Limited complex at Dahej should not be released into the Narmada or its estuary, but into the sea. This was supported by the ministry of environment and forests and the National Institute of Oceanography, Goa. And yet, in 1994, the gpcb allowed the gidc to approve the release of 78 mld (million litre per day) of effluents into the Narmada. neeri has currently undertaken a study of the possibility of releasing effluents from the Jhagadia industrial estate into the sea. The NPNS disclosed that even in the Jhagadia estate the gpcb' s approval for releasing effluents into the Narmada was found missing.