sc-approves-kerala-slotting-projects-in-orange-category

Context: The Supreme Court has declined to intervene in an appeal filed by the CREDAI’s Kerala chapter against the NGT’s ruling that sided with Kerala State Pollution Control Board’s decision to place constructions between 2,000 sq.m and 20,000 sq.m in the orange category.

Background

  • The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) slotted industrial activities into the red, orange, green and white categories, based on the pollution index, in March 2016. 
  • The Kerala State Pollution Control Board (SPCB), in pursuance of the CPCB’s direction and the report of an expert committee, brought flats, apartments and commercial buildings — spanning over 2,000 sq.m, but less than 20,000 sq.m under the orange category
  •  The CREDAI challenged the State Pollution Control Board’s circular before the Appellate Authority that decided in favor of CREDAI.
  • Later, the Kerala SPCB moved to the NGT, which ruled against CREDAI, and held that these stringent conditions were required to contain contamination of water bodies and the groundwater.

Argument of Kerala SPCB

  • The State Pollution Control Board had argued that it was authorised to impose stringent conditions to prevent environmental degradation and pollution. 
    • It had said it merely exercised its powers under the directions of the CPCB and the Environment (Protection) Rules. 

 

Categorisation of Industries

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has developed the criteria of categorization of industrial sectors based on the Pollution Index.

  • Pollution Index is a function of the emissions (air pollutants), effluents (water pollutants), hazardous wastes generated and consumption of resources. 
  • The Pollution Index PI of any industrial sector is a number from 0 to 100 and the increasing value of PI denotes the increasing degree of pollution load from the industrial sector. 

The following criteria on the Range of Pollution Index for the purpose of categorization of  industrial sectors is finalized.   

  1. Red category - Industrial Sectors having Pollution Index score of 60 and above 
  2. Orange category - Industrial Sectors having Pollution Index score of  41 to 59
  3. Green category - Industrial Sectors having Pollution Index score of  21 to 40
  4. White category - Industrial Sectors having Pollution Index score including & upto 20 

Significance

  • It has been termed as a landmark decision to give a fair picture of the industries.
  • The old system of categorization was creating problems for many industries and was not reflecting the pollution of the industries. 
  • The purpose of the categorization is to ensure that the industry is established in a manner which is consistent with the environmental objectives
  • The new criteria will prompt industrial sectors willing to adopt cleaner technologies, ultimately resulting in generation of fewer pollutants

The salient features of the Re-categorization exercise are as follows

  • Due importance has been given to relative pollution potential of the industrial sectors based on scientific criteria.
  • Further, wherever possible, splitting of the industrial sectors is also considered based on the use of raw materials, manufacturing process adopted and in-turn pollutants expected to be generated.
    • Newly-introduced White category contains 36 industrial sectors which are practically non-polluting.
    • There shall be no necessity of obtaining the Consent to Operate for White category of industries. An intimation to concerned SPCB / PCC shall suffice.
    • No Red category of industries shall normally be permitted in the ecologically fragile area / protected area.
  • Another feature of the new categorization system lies in facilitating self-assessment by industries as the subjectivity of earlier assessment has been eliminated.
  • This ‘Re-categorization’ is a part of the efforts, policies and objectives of the present government to create a clean & transparent working environment in the country and promote the Ease of Doing Business.

Other Similar Efforts

  • Installation of Continuous Online Emissions/ Effluent Monitoring Systems in the polluting industries
  • Revisiting the CEPI (Comprehensive Environment Pollution Index) concept for assessment of polluted industrial clusters
  • Revision of existing industrial emission/effluent discharge standards, initiation of special drive on pollution control activities in Ganga River basin.

Image Source: Telegraph