Wednesday 6 February 2013

The ineffective pollution control measures in Bangalore

You would be mistaken if you think or thought that the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), whish has become the most talked about organization in India over the last few years, is only worried about income and expenditure of the Government.
The CAG has been in the news, particularly in the last three years, following its incisive and non-nonsense approach towards auditing in the 2G, 3G and other cases.
The CAG, Vinod Rai, has become an international hero and a man who has taken on the mighty establishment. His unwavering stand on honesty and refusal to bow down to the Government diktats have embarrassed the ruling Congress party and the entire Government.
However, you would be excused if you think that this is all that is there to the CAG. The organisation has shown itself to be one of the most public spirited constitutional functionaries by taking up people based issues, so much so that last it took on the high levels of pollution in Bangalore.
Not many are aware that the CAG went into the functioning of the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) and the steps it had taken to control pollution in and around Bangalore.
There is no need for anybody, including the CAG, to point to rising levels of  pollution in Bangalore. But what the CAG did was to bring to us the dismal track record and the inability of the KSPCB, the apex body that monitors, controls and even makes policy decisions on pollution control measures in Karnataka.
The CAG report is in public domain and anyone can access it. All its findings were placed in the form of a report in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly last year.      
The CAG has come down heavily on the KSPCB for its failure to check the pollution levels of Bangalore. It said the action plan drawn up the board was not adequate and that it did not sufficiently address pollution-related issues.     
The CAG also pointed out that at a time when there is a need for greater environmental consciousness, the board did not spend the amount set aside for it. Apart from the under utilisation of funds, there was no proper inventory of pollution sources. What is more damning is that it pointed out glaring examples of identification and inspection of units causing various types of pollution.
It noted that there were scores of units operating without installing pollution control measures.    
Citing an example it said though TG Halli reservoir is one of the main sources of drinking water to west Bangalore, a large number of units are still being allowed to pollute the area. Besides, only ten percent of the industrial units operating in Bangalore metropolitan area registered with the board.
The CAG has dealt in detail with several aspects of the functioning of the board, including consent to industrial units, installation or rather delay in installation of emission control measures, lack of inspection and monitoring.
It has sounded a note of caution about the quality of groundwater in and around Bangalore. It says in the absence of a technically advanced sewage treatment system, the ground water is fairly polluted and it has a high level of  pollutants.
It says even the sewage treatment plant operated by Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) does not conform to KSPCB standards.
Well, the question Bangaloreans should ask is do we need the CAG to tell us that pollution in Bangalore is rising and that immediate measures need to be taken up on a war footing.
The question perhaps will remain unanswered as political parties face up for the oncoming polls and politicians place a game of one upmanship with each other, leaving immediate civic issues on the back burner.    

1 comment:

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