Pro-active steps to curb pollution
By Our Staff Reporter
BANGALORE April 22. Every year, 15 lakh vehicles in the State deposit over 1,145 tonnes of carbon. According to a report of the Comptroller and Auditor-General, 76 per cent of the State's water supply is unfit for consumption due to pollution of lakes and groundwater sources.
If these statistics reveal the appalling amount of pollution prevalent in the State and a lack of pollution-control governance by the State's administrative mechanism, the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) has solutions to these ills.
"We will implement a series of measures to check pollution of all forms, including biomedical waste, and noise and air pollution to herald an environment-friendly State. We will set up common waste disposal facilities in Gulbarga, Mysore and Raichur," Upendra Tripathy, KSPCB Chairman, said here on Monday.
He was speaking at a workshop on "Environment and Media" organised by the KSPCB and Suresh Heblikar's Eco-Watch organisation which was inaugurated by A. Ravindra, Chief Secretary.
The Government's drive to reduce the use of plastic bags less than 20 microns thick is also gaining momentum. The KSPCB plans to organise ECO-ORG 2002 in December to showcase environment-friendly products. Besides this, it will host a regional meet with neighbouring States to prevent the use of plastic bags less than 20 microns thick. In a significant move, security will be stepped up at check-posts to ensure that these bags are not brought into the State.
Among pro-active steps planned by the KSPCB to make the State pollution free are a GIS map and Zoning Atlas of Karnataka that would identify industry-friendly zones in areas bereft of lakes.
Incidentally, the Lake Development Authority set up this year has completed its survey of lakes in and around Bangalore. Out of the original 200 lakes in Bangalore, only 87 exist today, according to the survey. The Chief Minister, S.M.Krishna, will release the "Survey on Lakes" on World Environment Day in June. The survey will also cover lakes in Mysore, Gulbarga and Raichur districts.
According to an official report, Delhi and Bangalore are highly polluted cities compared to Mumbai and Kolkata due to the availability of better public transport systems in the latter. The KSPCB has floated tenders to set up seven air quality monitoring stations. It will also set up two toll-free lines to enable the public to inform the board about government vehicles causing pollution, Mr. Tripathy said.
In order to check industrial pollution, the board plans to make ISO 140001 certification a mandatory norm for industries such as those manufacturing paper and pulp, which rely on natural resources. The ISO 140001 certification is awarded to industries that follow environment-friendly industry practices such as water and solid waste management.
The board will issue a Citizen's Charter to create awareness among citizens about their environmental rights. The KSPCB plans to rope in one lakh students, industries, and NGOs to spread awareness on the environment.
The board will also award 53 fellowships to people pursuing research in environmental science. For further details regarding the fellowship, interested students can contact the Pollution Control Board, he added.
Authorities prevent waterharvesting
NEW DELHI: Instead of encouraging city residents who want to harvest rainwater, several government agencies are creating more hurdles for them. Until now people were simply getting harvesting plans made from the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) and asking contractors to implement them.
However, in a letter dated April 10 sent to the deputy commissioner, southwest zone, the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) states that no boring should be allowed without its permission. While the letter states it might permit government agencies, ‘‘individuals are not being accorded permission to recharge wells by deploying drilling rigs’’. In rocky areas or for digging deep bores, drilling is the only option for people who want to harvest rainwater.
CGWB state unit in-charge S B Singh, however, said: ‘‘People who have the plans from us can go ahead with the work without seeking any other permission. If anyone faces a problem, they can approach us and we will get the clearance.’’
Despite Singh’s assurance, several contractors and people complained that the police were stopping them from drilling borewells through which the harvested rainwater could be sent to the aquifers.
‘‘Recently we were drilling to install a harvesting structure in Rajokri when some policemen stopped us. They showed us the CGWA letter,’’ said A K Sinha, a Dilshad Garden- based contractor. Sinha said he had to approach the local SHO to resume the work.
A resident of Mehrauli said on condition of anonymity: ‘‘On seeing some bricks and a drilling machine at my place, local MCD officials came with the police. I tried to explain I was not drilling for water but for harvesting, but they did not understand.’’ The work had to be stopped.
Primla Vohra (70) had a similar experience when she was overseeing the harvesting project for D Block, Vasant Vihar last year. ‘‘The police tried to stop the work. Perhaps, they wanted something. After much persuasion from me and other residents, and after flaunting the CGWA letter, they went away grudgingly,’’ Vohra, whose husband was the founding chairman of the CGWA in 1972, said.
Delhi Police commissioner Ajai Raj Sharma, however, said: ‘‘I have not received any complaint. Still we will issue a note to all police stations, stating the importance of water harvesting. We will sensitise the force so that they don’t oppose, but help with harvesting works.’’
Singh also assured that the problem would be sorted out soon. ‘‘CGWB members and CGWA officials are likely to meet on April 30. At the meeting, all these issues will be resolved and people will face no problem.’’
Beating the ban on borewells: Since the CGWA has banned drilling in south and southwest Delhi without prior permission, officials say some people get harvesting plans made but stop as soon as the drilling is over. Instead of being used to recharge the aquifers, the tubewells are used for drawing ground water.
A CGWA official said: ‘‘Very often we receive an application for drilling tubewells to draw ground water and we reject the application. In a week or 10 days the same person comes back to say that he wants to drill for harvesting.’’
Singh said: ‘‘We should have a strong follow-up team to check whether the plans have been implemented.’’