The Supreme Court on Wednesday passed a slew of directions to curb the release of untreated waste in water bodies and asked state pollution control boards not to allow industrial units to work if they do not have functional primary effluent treatment plants (PETPs), after serving them notice.
A bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar directed state pollution control boards to issue common notice to all industrial units to verify whether they have set up PETPs as mandated under the legal provisions.
The bench, which also comprised Justices D Y Chandrachud and S K Kaul, said on the expiry of a three-month notice period, state PCBs should carry out inspection of the industrial units to ascertain the status of their PETPs.
If industrial units do not have functional PETPs, then they will not be allowed to function any more, the court said.
The bench directed the state PCBs to ask the concerned discoms or electricity supply boards to disconnect the power supply to the defaulting industrial units.
It said the industrial units could resume functioning only after they made their PETPs functional.
The apex court also asked the local or municipal authorities to set up Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CETP) within three years after acquiring land and completing other formalities.
The states will have to submit reports with regard to setting up of CETPs to the concerned bench of the National Green Tribunal.
The bench said local civic authorities could formulate norms to levy cess from users if they face financial crunch in running and setting up of CETPs.
The apex court had earlier issued notice to the Centre, the ministry of environment and forests, the Central Pollution Control Board and the chief secretaries of 19 states, including Gujarat, on the plea filed by NGO Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti on the issue of pollution in water bodies, including ground water.
Initially, the plea was restricted to Gujarat but later its scope was widened by the apex court, which had granted the last opportunity to the states on January 16 to file their responses.
Image: A photograph from July 2013 of the Sabarmati river in Ahmedabad. The river has since been cleaned up and its banks beautified. Photograph: Amit Dave/Reuters.