Maharashtra Chemical Firms In Crisis Over Pollution Norms

Mumbai, July 25 | Updated: Jul 26 2004, 05:53am hrs
The Rs 60,000-cr Maharashtra-based chemical industry is facing a crisis, thanks to the new set of industrial location criteria and pollution control regulations annouced by the state environment department.

The state environment department has notified the industrial location policy from environment angle in the river catchments.

With Maharashtra having 20 rivers, the catchment areas have been categorised in four categories, that is, A-I, A-II, A-III and A-IV based on the river water quality. From the starting point of river, up to the first dam, the river shall have desired water quality A-I. From first dam up to the area is designated as A-II, where the river water quality is fit for human consumption. While in areas classified A-III, the river quality shall be suitable for fisheries and wildlife. In A-IV zone, the river quality should be suitable for agricultural and industrial usages.

In addition to this, the pollution control regulations have classified all manufacturing activities into three categories: Red (heavily poluting) , Orange (less polluting) and Green (non-polluting). The restrictions for developing industries shall be applicable upto 500 m from High Flood Level (HFL) of the river on both sides in A-II class area. These restriction are applicable to industrial areas to be developed by MIDC and non-MIDC.

Industry players say the new location criteria and related pollution control has stopped all the activities like modernisation, expansion or product change across the state. Accordingly, around 5,500 chemicals and other industries future growth and activities have come to a standstill.

The industry has alleged that the state government has rollbacked its own industry criteria, without consulting the industry. To establishe heavy industries like those involved in makings chemicals takes a long time and the plants cannot be redesigned to the conform to the sudden changes in regulations.

Further, even smaller but permanent correction requires huge investment in chemical factory. It also gives chain reaction from production development to its marketing, which requires additional but non-productive investment in the factory. It directly increases product cost and selling price of the products.

Indian Chemical Manufacturers Association (ICMA), environment committee, chairman, SK Hazra said: The industry which has been investing in land and infastructure are at a disadvantage as change of product, expansion and diversification is restricted based on absolute pollution load.

If pollution norms have not change by the government, then state Chemical industry has to face sever competition from the other states. In the era of the competition, this industry need quick change in products and have to response to external demands. By altering pollution norms it will bring stagnation in the industry, and it will lead to decay of industries, Mr Hazra said.

Excel Industries, General Manager (EHS), Vipin B Doshi said: Majority of MIDC areas have been affected due to river policy of the state. The distance of industry from river bank is specified based on its polluting potential. This norms will hamper the growth of the industry.

We have urged the state government to make the necessary changes in the norms and hope that they will modify the same at the interest of the state industry, Mr Doshi said.

According to Mr Doshi, at some MIDC areas, common effluent treatment plants (CETPs) have been commissioned giving additional protection against pollution load. Even the effluents from chemical industries are not discharged in rivers, but carried away to location specified by the authorities.