The environment ministry has ordered closure of 150 industrial units, including sugar mills and tanneries, along the Ganga river as these units had failed to install round-the-clock effluent monitoring systems.
Among the units ordered to close are nine paper and pulp units, 28 textile units, six slaughter houses, nine sugar mills, four distilleries, 68 tanneries, 10 chemical units and 14 others.
Environment minister Prakash Javadekar said these units failed to implement an action plan formulated by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to reduce effluent generation and organic load for abatement of industrial pollution in the Ganga river.
He said there has been a "significant" reduction in industrial pollution in the river since several industries have already implemented pollution control measures.
"There has been substantial progress in installation of 24X7 Online Continuous Effluent Monitoring Systems (OCEMS),'' he said, adding that 514 of the 764 Gross Polluting Industries (GPI) have already installed OCEMS while 94 are in the process.
"Closure orders have been issued to 150 remaining units and responses of other six units are under examination," Javadekar told reporters in New Delhi.
He said these industrial units have been given a year's time to implement pollution control measures and that even after persuading these industries for more than a year they did not respond to the government's advise.
"This is the biggest action taken till date on the issue of abatement of pollution in Ganga or any river in the country. When they give action plan, order the machines, then we can think about giving them permission. Till then they will be closed," Javadekar said.
Javadekar said the CPCB had constituted vigilance teams and carried out inspections during December-end last year and early January 2016 of 130 industries which included 48 pulp and paper, 54 sugar and 28 distillery units to assess progress in implementation of action plans.
He said the inspections were carried out to specifically confirm facts relating to conservation of water, reduction in waste water generation and pollution load.
"The total waste water generation and its organic load in terms of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) from 764 GPI as per last 2012 assessment was 501 MLD (million litres per day) and 131 tonnes per day.
"It is conservatively estimated that discharge from industries has been brought down by 125 MLD. It is further estimated that the BOD load reduction resulting from units which have achieved ZLD norms in distillery and pulp and paper sectors, apart from those which are permanently closed would be in the order of 30 tonnes per day," he said.
The minister said 28 distilleries among 130 industrial units inspected by CPCB were found to have achieved nil industrial discharge by adopting system of bio-composting and incineration.
These distilleries have also succeeded in reducing BOD from 22 tonnes per day (TPD) to 2 TPD while no distillery was seen disposing of spent wash. Javadekar said 11 units have installed multiple effect evaporators while the rest 17 are in process of installation.
Of the 48 pulp and paper units, eight agro-based units have stopped discharging black liquor while 42 industries were found operating ETP systems. There has also been a reduction in fresh water consumption and effluent generation in the industries while five industries have achieved zero liquid discharge (ZLD), the minister stated.
Overall, the report said that effluent disposal has been brought down from 119 MLD (out of 201 MLD) to 61 MLD while BOD load has been reduced from 76 TPD to 25 TPD.
In the case of 54 sugar industries, it was also found that all units have implemented the action plan and brought down waste water discharge from 400 litres / ton of cane crushed to 200 litres / ton while 19 units have achieved reduction in water withdrawal and waste water generation.
Javadekar said that 48 units are utilising treated effluents for irrigation and out of 54, only three units were found to be partially operating ETP.
In terms of online installations of effluent monitoring systems, out of 130 industries, 94 have installed online effluent monitoring devices, 31 have placed the work orders or are in the process of installation.
The 764 grossly polluting industries along the Ganga used to discharge 501 million litres per day (MLD) of effluents in the river. According to the CPCB, this has come down to 376 MLD, a reduction of 125 MLD.
A majority of the grossly polluting industries - 687 - are in Uttar Pradesh while 42 are in Uttarakhand and the rest are in Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. With 444 units, the tanneries are major pollutants, followed by pulp and paper and sugar units at 67 each.
Industrial pollution, however, accounts only for 7.5 per cent of effluent discharge load in Ganga while municipal sewage constitutes 86 per cent of Ganga pollution.