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Pollution Board's High Fees Hit Small And Medium Industries In Karnataka  
Source:   Business Standard City   : Chennai Published On   27-10-2009  

 

The procedure of the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) for grant of permission to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to commence production — including its move to charge a consent fee based on a unit’s capital investment — is causing hardship to enterprises in the state.

 

The board’s guidelines require all industrial units in the state to pay a consent fee — which industries claim is very high — before starting production. The fee is for granting consent for the installation and operation of effluent treatment plants (ETPs) every year, and is based on the industries’ capital investment. SMEs are finding the guidelines difficult to follow.

For the purpose of enforcement, KSPCB has categorised industries broadly into Red, Orange and Green, depending on the nature of activity and pollution potential. Before establishing plant and machinery at the selected site, a unit is required to obtain “consent for establishment” from the Board under the Water and Air Acts and, if necessary, the Hazardous Waste (Management and Handling) Rules.

In addition, before starting production (trial or regular), industrial units have to obtain “consent for operation” under the Water Act and Air Act and , if required, authorisation under the Hazardous Waste (Management and Handling) Rules.

J Crasta, president of the Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI), said that the consent fee charged by the board is very high. It ranges from Rs 100 to Rs 150,000 for Green category industries; Rs 150 to Rs 175,000 for Orange category units; and Rs 200 to Rs 200,000 for Red category units. The fee is based on the capital investment made by the units, ranging from Rs 1 lakh at the lower end to Rs 1,000 crore in the top bracket.

The KSPCB has classified 118 industries as highly polluting. Those such as electroplating, foundries, paints, enamels, and varnishes are in the Red category, irrespective of their investment. About 51 industries are in the Orange and 111 industries in the Green categories. However, exact data on unregistered/ informal small and tiny units in the state is not available.

“We appreciate the objective of the pollution control board, but not the way it is functioning at present. There is an urgent need to regulate its functioning at different levels. The procedure for granting permission should be made simpler, in line with the liberalisation process, but not rigidly going by the provisions of the Act,” Crasta said.

He added that KSPCB should base the consent fee on effluents generated by the units and not on the land and buildings; however, the board has pegged the fee to the capital invested by the industrial units.

M C Dinesh, president of the Karnataka Small Scale Industries Association (Kassia), said, “We do not want to pollute the environment, nor are we against the payment of consent fee. Small industries cannot afford to build an ETP on their own. It is the government’s job to create basic infrastructure so that there is no discharge of untreated effluents into the earth or water bodies.”

For example, he said, the government created Peenya Industrial Estate, the largest in India, about 25 years ago. But, even now there is no proper drainage system or water pipeline. Likewise, the apparel park recently set up by in Doddaballapur has no ETP, he said. “In such a scenario, how can the pollution control board expect industries to adhere to norms?” he asked.

FKCCI has requested the government and KSPCB to re-examine the method of levying the consent fee. “It should be proportionate to the effluent generated, be it solid, liquid or gas, which is meaningful. This is possible since the consent applications will have all the details of probable quantity of effluent generation. This will be a great relief to the majority of small industries, who have a few lakhs of investment and are doing job work,” Crasta added.

 
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