The UP Pollution Control Board through Member Secretary Mr. U. Bhatt was informed of the visit of the undersigned SCMC member to Kanpur as I was visiting Allahabad .
Accordingly, arrangements were made for the site visit. Dr. Yashpal Singh, Chief Environment Officer and other officers from UP PCB Lucknow and Er. S.R. Sachan, Regional Officer at Kanpur remained present together with Government officials from Jal Nigam, Jal Sanstha n and Kanpur Nagar Nigam.
The visit was decided upon after receipt of a detailed 136 page application filed by Mr Rakesh Jaiswal of Eco Friends, Kanpur , submitted to the SCMC through their lawyer, Ritwick Dutta and after complaints were received from the same organization by Dr G Thyagarajan and the undersigned. Mr Jaiswal was also present during the visit.
The Committee spent the entire day visiting areas contaminated by chromium wastes, hazardous waste dumps, Kanpur CETPs and hazardous waste generating industries.
At the end of the visit, the SCMC held a meeting with the officers of the Pollution Control Board, Kanpur Jal Sansthan, Kanpur Jal Nigam and Kanpur Nagar Nigam and Eco Friends. The following decisions were taken and agreed to for implementation in the context of the order dated 14.10.2003.
(1) The Committee visited Noraia Kheda and was shown green coloured water contaminated with chromium. Despite earlier recommendations by the CPCB in its reports made in 1997 and 2000 that water be provided for the community thus affected, nothing has been done in the matter. Mr. U.C. Tiwari, General Manager, Kanpur Jal Sansthan agreed without hesitation to ensure water supply to the community at Noraia Kheda. Mr. Tiwari agreed that emergency supplies would commence from 19 th September 2005 through tankers. He agreed to visit the area, assess the need and submit to SCMC a plan for permanent supply of water to the affected community. The community leaders informed the SCMC that they were even ready to pay the costs of receiving domestic connections. The authorities will take steps to close all wells in the area after permanent water supply system has been established. They may be reopened only after the aquifer is remediated and rehabilitated.
(2) The Committee visited Jajmau area where chromium contaminated waste water from the CETPs is supplied through irrigation channel for irrigation purposes. Official studies (conducted by the National Botanical Research Institute in 2000) and by the CPCB in 2000 indicate that the crops and even the milk produced in the area is contaminated and people are also in medical distress. Though funding for supply of drinking water is approved, so far Kanpur Nagar Nigam has only released a total of Rs.15.00 lakhs by which part of the villagers have been provided with safe water. For the remaining nine villages affected, a sum of Rs. 34.00 lakhs is required to be made available from Rs.85.28 lakhs already approved by the UP Government. SCMC will have to issue necessary directions to the Chief Secretary in this context.
(3) The Committee visited the basic chrome sulphate (BCS) units at Rania industrial area, Kanpur Dehat. Over 30,000 tons of chromium contaminated sludge are dumped in the open in an illegal landfill and are to be transported at the cost of the units to a secured landfill being constructed by the Ramky Engineers.
The PCB informed the Committee that the chrome sulphate units were shut down for six months pursuant to the Supreme Court order dated 14-10-2003 . Thereafter, they were allowed to reopen on the specious plea that the companies had temporary storage capacity of two months and they should be allowed to reopen on that count. The Committee visited one such unit and found to its utter dismay that no safeguards had been taken even for temporary storage and the units were functioning in brazen violation of the HW Rules and the Apex Court Order dated 14-10-2003 . The UP PCB was informed that the decision to reopen the units was not proper as it directly conflicted with the directions given in the order dated 14-10-2003 which required that no unit will be granted fresh authorization until the earlier dumped wastes have been removed by it.
The Board, in any case, agreed to review forthwith the decision to reopen the units by conducting a fresh survey of these temporary storages in view of the fact that the two month period was also over. (It was in fact clear that units were still dumping wastes in the open illegal hazardous waste dump.) The Board was informed that continued operation of the units was in violation of the 14-10-2003 order and steps should be taken to have the units shut down immediately. Compliance report should be filed by the Member Secretary, SCMC within 15 days of receipt of this report.
The Committee was informed that some wells adjacent to the waste dump have been already contaminated with the hazardous wastes. PCB was asked to put up proper public notice at the wells and to commence the process of permanent closure of these sources of water as well.
(4) The Committee visited in addition, two hazardous waste generating units.
A Kay Pee Chemicolour industry (Noraiakheda) was found to be violating the HW Rules discharging hazardous wastes into the public open drain without consent. The Board was asked to put the unit under enquiry and examine where it was dumping its hazardous wastes. Notice of closure in the meanwhile should be issued.
Indian Tanning Industries was visited for inspection of working of chrome recovery plant. Though the plant was in working condition, there were so many possibilities of spillages of the effluent as the conveyance channel and the tanks are not lined. Authorisation was not proper as no quantities were mentioned in the document. The Company was advised to do a complete plastering of the conveyance channels and tanks to ensure that they were leak proof. PCB to ensure compliance.
The Committee was informed that ten illegal hazardous waste dump sites were being investigated. Proposals for detailed survey and estimate of the wastes dumped at these sites had been received from both NEERI and EPTRI. The Committee felt this work should have been done earlier, as two years had already elapsed since the apex court order.
(6) The NGO took the Committee to visit a large hazardous waste dump at Panki industrial estate. Apparently, this dump site, though very large, is not in the list of ten dump sites. The UP PCB promised to take appropriate action.
(7) The SCMC visited the CETP complex, enclosing three CETPs. We found that the CETP operators do not have figures of the generation of hazardous wastes and neither was it being analysed for hazardous metals like chromium and lead, or other parameters like TDS or chlorides. The operators claimed that the unit does not have an AAS to measure heavy metals despite the fact that chromium and lead are serious problems in the sludge generated by the plant. From the data produced, it was clear that the sludge from both the large CETPs was hazardous as per the HW Rules, 1989, as amended.
The SCMC visited the storage of the hazardous sludge and found that it violated all the norms. The sludge is kept in the open on a thin sheet of plastic. The officials informed the Committee that the waste was being transferred to SLF as soon as it was completed at village Rooma. However, they were unable to provide a firm period by which this would be done. The present storage was in violation of the apex court order. (Subsequently, the Kanpur Nagar Nigam has faxed the bar charts for the work being done on the SLF to the Committee.)
(9) The SCMC found the CETP functioning without authorization though two years have passed by since the Apex Court order that required permanent closure of units without authorization. The PCB was asked to bring the CETP under authorization regime as quickly as possible and report compliance.
The plant operators agreed to conduct a detailed performance audit of the CETP with a view to evaluate its efficiency to recover and remove all traces of hazardous contaminants in the sludges, especially chromium.
(11) 83 tannery units still do not have chromium recovery plants within their premises. The authorities assured the Committee that the common chromium recovery plant would be completed by February 2006. (It appears that such assurances have been made for the past five years!) They were asked to provide a bar chart for erection of the CCR plant to the Committee (which has since been done). If the plant is not ready by February 2006, all 83 units will go for closure as their continued existence generating such waste cannot any longer be permitted.
The SCMC informed the Board that all Ordnance factories in Kanpur are covered under HW Rules and must not operate in the absence of authorizations. None of the units had the display board as required outside the premises. This was not proper.
Display boards put up by many industrial units do not carry any data at all. The units must be instructed to strictly following the directions given in the apex court order in terms of information required to be displayed on the boards.
Dr Claude Alvares