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For Ganga to flow clean, industry told to shut shop

At the centre of the debate is the sewage treatment plant (STP) in Jajmau that needs urgent upgrade for cleaning effluent waste generated by the tanneries.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: May 19, 2018, 09.58 AM IST
Ensuring the pilgrims bathe in a clean and pure Ganga during Kumbh and even later.
Cleaning the Ganga or backing a thriving export industry on its banks – the Yogi Adityanath government is weighing in favour of the former. While the leather industry of Kanpur is crying foul, the administration is saying it is only getting rid of perhaps the holy river’s worst polluter in Uttar Pradesh.

The UP chief minister has ordered that all 264 operational tanneries in Kanpur’s Jajmau suburb on the river’s bank be closed for three months at a stretch, starting December 15 this year, so as to ensure that “clean and pure” Ganga water flows down to Allahabad for the Kumbh starting January 14.

Further, as per an ongoing plan to shift these tanneries away from the Ganga, the chief minister ordered than the sole sewage treatment plant in Jajmau that caters to these tanneries be shifted to Ramaipur about 20 kilometres away, implying that the industries will too have to relocate there.

“For decades, these tanneries have been contaminating the Ganga and turning the water black. The National Green Tribunal has also been against these tanneries on Ganga banks. It is a big decision by the CM,” a top UP government official told ET.

The industry is not impressed at all.

“If I have one word for this — it is disaster,” Taj Alam, the president of the UP Leather Industries Association, told ET. He said both decisions, of closing the units for three months and shifting them away to a new location, were “alarming” developments for the leather industry that thrives in Kanpur. “See this is a Rs. 6,000 crore worth of exports industry in the Unnao-Kanpur belt. The domestic industry is of another Rs. 6,000 crore. On one hand, the Union commerce ministry has been pushing us to increase our leather exports and on the other hand, the state government is out to punish us. There is no empirical proof to show we are the biggest polluters of the Ganga,” Alam said. Alam claimed also that land at the new location in Ramaipur was still to be allotted to industries, and “we are looking at being out of business for at least a year”.

At the centre of the debate is the sewage treatment plant (STP) in Jajmau that needs urgent upgrade for cleaning effluent waste generated by the tanneries.

The chief minister was told earlier this week that while the industries were generating 6.7 MLD effluents, the existing STP had a capacity to treat only 36 MLD and it costs Rs. 17 crore a year to run the plant – the tanneries will now have to foot half of this cost. The CM was also told that Rs. 17.88 crore were needed to immediately repair the plant and a whopping Rs. 554 crore to upgrade the STP to the required levels so that no effluent is discharged in the Ganga. On a suggestion from the UP Environment Principal Secretary, the CM decided the STP be instead shifted to the new location in Ramaipur where the UP government is setting up a new ‘Mega Leather Cluster’ and IITKanpur be involved to deliberate on its upgradation.

Alam said the plan so far was to upgrade the STP to standards of the Central Pollution Control Board, but the latest decision to shift it meant the industry won’t have even a year to shut shop in Jajmau and relocate to Ramaipur. “It takes time to build a factory, set up equipment. We provide many jobs — what happens to all that in the interim when business will get shut,” Alam asked. He said never before in any Kumbh had all tanneries been asked to shut at a stretch for three months like it has been now. “Earlier, we were always told to be closed for 4-5 days before each of the six bathing days in the Kumbh and that too not fully shut as non-wet operations were allowed. For the first time, we are being told to shut down for three months at a stretch. We have export orders; give employment — what about that,” Alam asked.

For the Yogi government, however, what is first on the priority list is a clean Ganga.
(Catch all the Business News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on The Economic Times.)

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