CPCB Current Affairs - 2019
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Over 25 State governments missed the deadline for submitting their action plans on systematic disposal of plastic waste to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). The April 30 deadline set by National Green Tribunal has expired and thus states may have to pay a fine as environment compensation of ₹1 crore each.
Background: In early 2019, National Green Tribunal (NGT) directed all States and Union Territories (except Sikkim, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Puducherry) to submit an action plan for compliance of PWM (Plastic Waste Mnagement) Rules and submit the same to CPCB by 30 April 2019. Moreover, NGT ordered that if any state fails to submit action plans within designated deadline it will have to pay the pollution body compensation at the rate of ₹1 crore per month after 1 May 2019.
Arguments by CPCB
- The conditions of waste management in country are poor as states do not prioritise plastic and solid waste management rules. Waste management is considered last in the list of priorities of state’s municipal corporations.
- Initially the States did not comply with CPCB orders, so it moved the NGT. Now the states are violating NGT orders, so they have to pay price for their laxity.
- The CPCB will now inform NGT about non-compliance and make states pay heavy amount for default. In some cases punishment not just includes compensation but imprisonment too.
Cause of Non-Compliance
- The main reason for non-compliance of plastic waste management rules is the lack of knowledge and updates among concerned State authorities such as state pollution control boards.
- There is also a communication gap between Ministry of environment, central government officials and state level government officials responsible for waste management compliance.
The Ministry of Environment thus needs to conduct regular awareness programmes in states to educate state-level officials to carry out necessary measures to segregate plastic and dispose it.
Rivers are a source of life and in India, this has become deadly resource due to rising levels of pollution in the rivers as tonnes of waste finds its way into them thereby polluting waters and further choking their natural flow. The pollution is a death sentence to all the flora and fauna who are part of the ecosystem. The Modi government did try to make some advance to address the issue but has miserably failed to record any progress.
- The pollution in Indian Rivers has gone up ever since 2015 as the Central Pollution Control Board has pinpointed 302 stretches of nearly 12,000 km in rivers across the country. This comprises 51 highly contaminated stretches where the quality of water is particularly hazardous.
- The figures had shot up to 351 stretches in 2018 with 61 of them which were heavily polluted.
- Water is a state subject under our Constitution. The river waters, however, are not confined to a particular state and they flow across these boundaries. Also, different ministries are handling different aspects of the management of river waters. E.g. the Environment Ministry is responsible for the cleaning of rivers, while the flow of river waters is managed by the Ministry of Water Resources. Thus, the National River Conservation Plan which brings the state governments together to tackle the issue of pollution of rivers is put forth by the Environment Ministry. Under the Modi government, the funding for overall NRCP was reduced due to the focus being shifted to River Ganga.
- The governmental special focus on River Ganga is genuine as it considered as the most important river in India and also known as Holy to the Hindus. Ganga flows through 5 states in India namely, Uttarakhand, UP, Jharkhand, Bihar and finally West Bengal. Thus, a flagship programme was launched by the Modi government for Ganga rejuvenation. The National Ganga Council was also headed by the Prime Minister himself. It was under the Namame Gange programme that the government had promised to clean the river by 2019.
- The latest data by the Central Pollution Control Board states that there is no recorded improvement in the quality of river water. In fact, the recent data suggests that the pollution in Ganga has increased after three rounds of testing of the biological water quality was taken up at different locations across the stretch of the river between 2014 and 2018. Also, out of the 61 live monitoring stations which had been set up in Ganga only 13 points were deemed fit for bathing in March 2019. This data has come after the claims by the government of absolute sanitation of about 4,465 villages on the banks of the river. The river despite being polluted does not have any faecal bacteria.
The governmental failure can be attributed to the fact that most of the funds earmarked for Namami Gange remain unspent i.e. the actual spending from a figure of Rs. 20,000 crores were far less. Even the Rs. 9000 crore which had been put aside in the last four years was not even spent half. The CAG report has added that the failure has been largely due to the shortage of staff and general mismanagement due to which the pollution kept mounting.