The Gujarat High Court on Friday made it clear that industrial units cannot dictate terms about releasing effluent in Sabarmati river and they will have to suffer the consequences if guidelines are not complied with. HC also stated that factories cannot be allowed to continue their business at the cost of people’s health and environment. It directed the AMC to conduct an inspection of effluents being discharged and submit a report.

A bench of Gujarat High Court consisting Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice VD Nanavati was hearing a suo motu petition on pollution in Sabarmati caused by untreated effluent discharged by factories in the city. In the previous hearing, the court had asked the civic body and the Gujarat Pollution Control Board to take action against the units.

Meanwhile, some industrial units, including Arvind and Ashima, whose sewage connections have been disconnected by the civic body, had approached the high court and come out with some long-term and short- term solutions. The bench appreciated the suggestions and said that these could be a model procedure, but cautioned at the same time that units will have to comply with the norms. AMC lawyer Gursharan Virk submitted a report detailing action taken by the corporation on the order issued by the high court.

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The affidavit submitted, “It is now an uncontroverted position that the Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) of AMC have been irreparably and irreversibly damaged by the discharge of un- treated/partially treated trade effluent into AMC’s sewerage network. The impact of this illegal discharge has, as a consequence, also damaged Sabarmati river. As on January 4, about 400 connections of industries, discharging industrial effluents into AMC’s drainage/ sewerage network have been disconnected.”

The civic body further submitted that since November 2021 improvement is observed in the inflow parameters of raw sewage into AMC’s STPs, which were facing industrial contamination. If STPS performs properly, the domestic and household sewage which is processed there will also be treated in accordance with the norms and in turn, will ensure that the Sabarmati river is preserved and protected.

It also submitted that the AMC is in the process of receiving financial assistance from the World Bank for the upgradation and capacity enhancement of its STPs. All these expenses, running into hundreds of crores, would be futile if industries are permitted to discharge effluents into AMC’s sewerage network once again.

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