In a major step to bring down pollution of water bodies including major rivers, the Supreme Court today directed state pollution control boards not to allow industrial units to operate if they do not have effluent treatment plants.
The governments have been permitted to shut those units after giving them proper notice.
Significantly the pollution control boards have also been asked to direct the concerned discoms or electricity supply boards to disconnect the power supply to the defaulting industrial units.
A bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justices D Y Chandrachud and S K Kaul directed the state pollution control boards (PCBs) to issue common notice to all industrial units to verify whether they have set up PETPs as mandated under the legal provisions.
On expiry of a three-month notice period, state PCBs should carry out inspection of the industrial units to ascertain the status of their PETPs, the bench said.
“If industrial units do not have functional PETPs, then they will not be allowed to function any more”, the bench said.
It said the industrial units could resume functioning only after they made their PETPs functional.
The apex court also asked the local or municipal authorities to set up Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CETP) within three years after acquiring land and completing other formalities.
The apex court had earlier issued notice to the Centre, the Ministry of Environment and Forests, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and Chief Secretaries of 19 states, including Gujarat, on the plea filed by NGO Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti on the issue of pollution in water bodies, including ground water.
Initially, the plea was restricted to Gujarat but later its scope was widened by the apex court, which had granted the last opportunity to the states on January 16 to file their responses.
The PIL had raised concerns over "massive" pollution of India's waterbodies, including groundwater and seawater around the coast that put at risk the health and livelihood of "millions of people, and the health of animals, flora and fauna."
Among several other things, the PIL sought the court's direction to respondents to ensure that no effluents and pollutants beyond the prescribed norms flow into any waterbody or seep into the soil. No industrial unit be permitted to function unless it has an effluent treatment plant that meets the norms, it said.
This article has been made possible because of financial support from Independent and Public-Spirited Media Foundation.