Kochi: Southern bench of the National Green Tribunal has instructed the state government to provide Rs 16 crore to the Central Pollution Control Board for remediation of the highly polluted industrial area of Eloor.
In the order issued on April 24, Justice Dr P. Jyothimani and P.S. Rao instructed the government, which had earlier agreed to bear 60 per cent of the total remediation project cost, to deposit the amount with the CPCB within two weeks.
The Tribunal has warned that if that were not done within the stipulated time, coercive orders would be passed.
Though the government has already allocated an initial amount of Rs 50 lakh for pollution mitigation works, the amount is yet to be deposited to the CPCB, the implementing agency. Hence, the Green Tribunal asked the state government’s counsel to remit the amount with the CPCB in one week and the remaining Rs 15.50 crore in next two weeks.
The total estimated cost for remediation of soil, sediments, surface water and groundwater in Eloor area is about Rs 26 crore, apart from the preparation of detailed project report and providing consultancy services at the cost of Rs 3.82 crore.
The petitioner, Shibu Manuel, secretary of the Eloor-based Green Action Force, approached the NGT seeking measures to zero discharge of industrial sludge to river Periyar and also immediate and concrete steps to clean Kuzhikandom Thodu, Panachithodu, Pallipuram Chal and Kuthiyathodu apart from ensuring strict enforcement of environmental laws in the Eloor industrial belt.
It has been submitted to the Tribunal that of the total project cost, the Union government will bear 40 per cent while the state government will spend 60 per cent.
“As per the ‘polluter pays’ principle, the state government can recover half of the amount (`8 crore) from the four major polluting companies at Eloor - Merchem, IRE, FACT and HIL. But, getting it from them and depositing the money within the deadline is the major challenge before the government,” said Adv K.K. Ashkar, the counsel for Jana Jagratha, another NGO supporting the petitioner.
According to green activists, the NGT order assumes much significance as the earlier remediation project proposals had to be dropped due to lack of funds.
It is because of the NGT’s strict interference that the state government had agreed to bear 60 percent of the cost....