By our Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, July 30: The laxity on the part of the Pollution Control Board, Assam (PCBA) has exposed the people of Assam to serious health hazards. So much is the threat perception that 76 per cent of the hazardous waste generating industries in the State were functioning without obtaining any authorization from the PCBA. The presence of the PCBA makes no difference when it does not have vital information regarding the total quantity of hazardous waste being generated in the State.
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, in its performance audit on environmental degradation in the Greater Guwahati area with special emphasis on the PCBA, made all these startling revelations. The CAG report was tabled in the State Assembly in the current Budget Session.
Hazardous waste means any waste which by reason of its own physical, chemical, reactive, toxic, flammable, explosive or corrosive characteristics cause danger or is like to cause damage to health or environment, whether alone or when in contact with other waste.
According to CAG report, 185 of the 243 hazardous waste generating industries in Assam were functioning without obtaining authorization from PCBA. With this figure one can gauge the gravity of the threat perception from hazardous industries in the State. The report further said that Assam produced more than 15,000 MT of hazardous waste during the year 2010-11 to 2014-2015.
In accordance with Rule 5 of the Hazardous Wastes (Magement, Handling and Trans-boundary Movement) Rules, every person who is engaged in generation, processing, treatment, package, storage, transportation, use, collection, destruction, conversion, offering for sale, transfer of hazardous waste shall require to obtain an authorization from the PCBA that should maintain a register containing the particulars of the conditions imposed for magement of hazardous waste. The register is open for inspection to any person interested or affected or a person authorized by him on his behalf. The Rules further prescribe that every generator, recycler of hazardous wastes shall prepare an annual return containing the specified details and submit it to the PCBA.
Further, Rule 22 (3) of the Hazardous Wastes ((Magement, Handling and Trans-boundary Movement) Rules, 2008 says that PCBA shall prepare an inventory of the hazardous waste within its jurisdiction and compile other related information like recycling of the hazardous waste, its treatment and disposal based on the returns filed by the respective occupier and operator of the facility. If the body is found at fault in the inspection, the PCBA can take action as per the Environment Act.
However, it was observed during the audit that –
* PCBA had identified 243 hazardous waste generating industries in the State up to 2014-15, but issued authorization to only 58 units.
* No details of conditions were imposed while granting authorization to any agency for magement of hazardous waste being maintained by the PCBA.
* The PCBA did not have any information about the disposal or recycling of hazardous waste generated.
* There was no common Treatment, Storage and Disposal Facility (TSDF) in the State.
* During 2014015, only 18 of the 58 industries, which had obtained authorization, submitted the annual returns. The PCBA initiated no action against the defaulters for non-submission of annual returns.