Saturday, May 21, 2011

Gagandeep Singh Bedi now Secretary of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries Department

More IAS officers shuffled; 47 get new postings - The Hindu
Saturday, May 21, 2011

Gagandeep Singh Bedi, Managing Director, Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage Board, has been posted as Secretary, Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries Department in the place of M.P. Nirmala.

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Sunday, May 01, 2011

'TNPCB fudged data to push for moratorium lift'

'TNPCB fudged data to push for moratorium lift' - The New Indian Express

Gokul Chandrasekar
Apr 2011 02:39:32 AM IST

CHENNAI: In a bid to accelerate the lifting of moratorium imposed on new industries in Cuddalore by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) presented fraudulent data to the Centre, according to a report.

The report, brought out by the SIPCOT area community environmental monitors (SACEM) and prepared using data obtained from official records accessed through the Right to Information (RTI) Act and from international environmental law experts, said that the TNPCB and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had fudged data to keep the figures artificially low and push Cuddalore out of the list of "critically-polluted areas".

For instance, the TNPCB action plan claimed that there had been no industrial discharges into Uppanar river or land or SIPCOT drains and that treated effluents were discharged into the Bay of Bengal through CUSECS a common effluent treatment and disposal system.

But, SACEM's documentation in the region had recorded 15 incidents of effluent discharge into the land or village canal or Uppanar river last year.

"At least four fishermen fell sick due to water contamination," said S Pugazendi of Cuddalore and an SACEM member.

Shweta Narayan of SACEM cited an example of massive discharge of effluents into SIPCOT drains soon after heavy rains in August last year. This contaminated the village canal.

"The TNPCB was forced by the residents to conduct a study and its results obtained through the RTI revealed that the water was contaminated with several parameters being above the prescribed limits. Following this, the TNPCB issued a showcause notice to the company in question. Despite this, the CPCB incorrectly reported that there were no discharges," she added.

Narayan also questioned the functioning of the CUSECS, terming it an 'illegal setup' for effluent control in the industrial estate.

She claimed that it did not have a valid consent to operate, a fact revealed by the TNPCB's official records.

On how CUSECS controlled pollution, the TNPCB data mentioned just one sample taken on October 25. It stated that only total residue chlorine was above the prescribed limits.

But SACEM documentation countered this. "The RTI data shows that totally 62 samples were taken. All of them violated one or more standards. But the TNPCB chose to present only one sample having the least pollution level," said T Arulselvam of SACEM.

"Total Suspended Solids, Biochemical Oxygen Demand, Chemical Oxygen Demand, Nitrogen, Sulfide, Chlorine and Ammonia in most cases were above the CPCB prescribed limits," he added.

In submissions made on air pollution, the TNPCB recognised Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) as a major public health problem in the region and even quoted the results provided by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute. At the same time, it did not provide any data for the period during the preparation of its report.

But, three air samplings by SACEM during the same period tested positive for VOCs.

"Sample results revealed the presence of at least 20 toxic chemicals. Of this, at least 13 were beyond prescribed levels and seven were known carcinogens," Narayan said.

The TNPCB, while compiling this report, not only ignored its own data, but also did not take into account the complaints of violation of environment norms from the community, alleged Cuddalore residents.

"During the oneyear moratorium period alone, at least 130 violations from SIPCOT were reported to TNPCB," Narayan said.

Responding to the report, TNPCB member secretary R Ramachandran told Express that the board was taking steps to bring down pollution in Cuddalore. "I do not want to comment on the NGO's report,'' he said.

Activists protest lifing of indl moratorium in Cuddalore Sipcot

Activists protest lifing of indl moratorium in Cuddalore Sipcot - Times Of India Chennai;
Apr 30, 2011;


Chennai: Environmental activists are protesting against the lifting of the moratorium on setting up of new industrial units in Cuddalore, rated as one of the most polluted industrial clusters in India. Claiming that violations were still taking place, the SIPCOT Community Environmental Monitoring (SACEM), an NGO, on Friday asked Union environment minister Jairam Ramesh to reconsider the decision to lift the moratorium and criticized the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) for giving a clean chit to the SIPCOT industrial cluster.

A temporary moratorium was imposed in January 2010 by the ministry after the comprehensive environmental pollution index (CEPI) released by it showed Cuddalore to be the 16th most polluted in the country. The moratorium banned setting up of new industries and expansion of the existing units. In October 2010, the ministry extended the moratorium till March 2011, though such moratoriums were lifted from other industrial clusters in the country. However, on February 15, 2011, the ministry lifted the moratorium in Cuddalore too following a report from TNPCB.

Speaking at a media briefing in Chennai, SACEM member T Arulthangam said, “The real situation in Cuddalore can be assessed from the fact that barely two weeks after the lifting of the moratorium, there was a major gas leak from a chemical factory that left more than 300 people injured.”

Arulthangam said TNPCB had served a notice to the same chemical company after a massive discharge of industrial effluents into the town’s stormwater drain in August 2010. “The latest incident has not been taken into cognizance by TNPCB in the action plan report for Cuddalore,” he said.

Shweta Narayanan, another SACEM member, alleged that TNPCB had ignored its own data and findings while submitting the report. “The report says that there are no industrial discharges into Uppanar river or SIPCOT drains,” she said. “But attached to the same report are annexures providing data on the water samples taken by the board which show high levels of contaminants.”

A TNPCB official, who did not wish to be named, refuted the allegation and said the annexures were notices mandating changes and improvements. “What is being called as show-cause notices were really notices sent to companies mandating specific changes in their systems to reduce pollution,” he said.

He said the board had thoroughly inspected the cluster and taken all factors into consideration before submitting the report. “In the case of effluent discharge, all companies on the site are now treating their effluents which is let only into the sea and not any other local water bodies or drains.”

Report Exposes TNPCB Fraud to Exonerate SIPCOT Cuddalore -

Report Exposes TNPCB Fraud to Exonerate SIPCOT Cuddalore
Chennai, 29 April 2011:

The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) has fraudulently calculated the pollution index of SIPCOT Cuddalore to lift the moratorium on new industries imposed by the Ministry of Environment and Forests in January 2010, according to a report titled “A Critique of the TNPCB/ CPCB Action Plan for Cuddalore” by SIPCOT Area Community Environmental Monitors and The Other Media.“ The report established that TNPCB and CPCB have cooked up data to keep pollution index figures artificially low and help SIPCOT Cuddalore move from being classified as “critically polluted.” The report charges the CPCB and TNPCB of preparing the action plan based on lies, half-truths and omissions.

As per CPCB's original Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index study of January 2010, Cuddalore was classified as critically polluted because its pollution index score exceeded 70 percent. The new figure of 54.5 was arrived at unscientifically through fraudulent means, and does not reveal the true state of environment in SIPCOT Cuddalore, SACEM charged. The Community group which furnished its own data to establish that pollution continues unabated in SIPCOT said the TNPCB has ignored its own data while calculating the index scores. “Had the TNPCB considered its own data, including those that establish the presence of carcinogens in air, water and land, the CEPI score would have been around 80, even higher than what was assigned to the region in January 2010,” the report's authors said.

The organisations said their report provides the basis for re-imposing the moratorium on industrial expansion in the SIPCOT region, and highlights the collusive and unscientific functioning of the state and central regulatory agencies.

TNPCB’s calculations come almost 11 months after the first CEPI study released by Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) declared Cuddalore 16th most polluted in the country with a score of 77.5. After the release of the first scores in January 2010, the MoEF had imposed a temporary moratorium on setting up of new industries and expansion of existing units until the environment was remediated and pollution brought under control. Based on the latest scores of TNPCB, the MoEF lifted the moratorium on 15 February 2011.

SACEM report indicates that the Board has not only ignored its own data it also did not take into cognizance community complaints of environmental violations from SIPCOT units. SACEM reveals that in the period between January and November 2010, at least 130 violations from the SIPCOT were reported to the Board. They included illegal discharge of effluent on land, canals, river, gas leaks, illegal expansions of units, dumping of hazardous wastes, fish kills, industrial accidents and injury to residents and workers. “None of these have been mentioned in the report. On the contrary in many places the report claims that there were no violations reported from the region,” said SACEM. “The real state of Cuddalore’s environment can be assessed from the fact that barely two weeks after the moratorium was lifted form SIPCOT based on the predicted scores of TNPCB there was a major gas leak from Shasun Chemicals that injured more than 300 residents. The unit was storing chemicals and operating without a valid consent,” added SACEM.

The TNPCB’s Action Plan also fails to mention that 20 out of 31 units in SIPCOT area are illegal and do not have valid Consent to Operate even though violations of Air and Water Acts are prosecutable offences under Air and Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Acts.

For more details please contact:
Shweta Narayan -- 8056024315
T. Arulselvam – 9443737134

Community Environmental Monitoring, H 31/39, Asthalakshmi Gardens, Besant Nagar, Chennai – 600090;

Background of CEPI study:

Released in January 2010, first of its kind, the CEPI study aimed to assess and rank the environmental pollution in 88 industrial clusters across the country. Based on the extent of water, land and air pollution in these hubs the study formulated a CEPI. It took into account available data on land, water and air pollution, biodiversity, ecological damage and waste management to make this assessment. The clusters were ranked on a scale of 0-100, where a high score indicates high levels of pollution and environmental degradation. Ten out of 88 of these clusters scored above 80 indicating extremely high levels of air, water and land pollution in these regions. Thirty-three clusters have scored between 70 and 80 and are classified as "critically" polluted while at least 32 others scored between 60 and 70 and are considered as "seriously" polluted clusters. Clusters that scored between 50-60 are classified as in the "warning" zones. The top polluters from Tamil Nadu included Vellore, Cuddalore, Manali, Coimbatore, Tirupur, Mettur and Erode. While Vellore ranked 8th in the list of most polluted among the 88 hubs, Cuddalore was ranked 16th, Manali 20th, Coimbatore 34th, Tirupur 51st, Mettur 56th and Erode 78th. The MoEF imposed a moratorium on new units or expansion of existing units in all critically polluted areas including Vellore, Cuddalore, Manali and Coimbatore from Tamilnadu in January 2010. Based on subsequent submissions of action plans by the TNPCB the moratorium has been lifted from Cuddalore and Coimbatore.