The Times of India report, “Order industries to bear cost, CPCB requsts NGT” (Aug 26, 2016), illustrates the bureaucratic setup by the state and central governments for pretending to be doing something about the Periyar pollution, without producing actual results.
The report says, “The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has pleaded to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to direct polluting industries to bear the remediation cost to save Periyar in Eloor area.” [2, 3, 4]
“The treated effluents should not be discharged through Kuzhikandom canal as it may continue to wash the sediments further down the creeks. The flow has to be contained to facilitate remediation activity. Therefore, the industries should be directed to submit a time-bound action plan to stop discharging treated effluents to the canal, the board submitted.”
“It said that multiple contaminants including DDT, endosulphan, chlorobenzenes and metals such as manganese, vanadium, zinc and chromium have been found in soil, groundwater, sediment and surface water and immediate steps need to be initiated to rejuvenate the river body.”
Apparently, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the Kerala State Pollution Control Board (KSPB) do not have any real authority. KSPB appeals to the CPCB, and CPCB in turn appeals to the National Green Tribunal (NGT). If governments were serious about solving pollution problems, KSPB would have had real authority. (And provided an appeal process regarding its decisions.). An empowered KSPB would have been able to take action on its own. For example, shutdown a polluting plant. Instead, it has to go through laborious legalistic procedures, while the pollution problems continue to deteriorate. Even though it was determined that Eloor region is one of the most polluted places in the world in 2006, no real action to control pollution has been taken so far.
The CPCB pleading to the NGT is also meaningless. Most of the polluting companies are running at a loss. So even if the NGT rules that the companies to bear the remediation costs of the pollution, it won’t produce any tangible results. The current situation is the result of bad industrialization policies in the 1930s. And time has shown that chemical industries are a disaster for kerala.
So the logical course of action is to close down the loss making chemical factories, and the Kerala Government to assume the cleanup costs. In addition, implement an Eloor-Edayar Redevelopment Program. Anything else will be prolonging the misery of the people in the Eloor area, and further collapse of the Periyar ecosystem.