The latest round of the Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index (CEPI), a parameter used by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to decide on moratoriums for activity expansion in industrial clusters across the country, has put three of the four such major clusters in Tamil Nadu in the ‘critically polluted’ category yet again.
The four clusters studied in the State are Coimbatore, Cuddalore, Manali and Vellore. While a moratorium on environment clearances on the first two had already been lifted by 2011, the one on Manali has now been scrapped following the latest CEPI figures to the surprise of environmental observers. According to the data put up on the CPCB website, Cuddalore, Vellore and Manali have CEPI scores of 70.12, 79.67 and 77.26 respectively. Any score above 60 shows critical levels of pollution in the index which is a cumulative of air, water and land pollution studies.
Coimbatore came under the “severe pollution” category with a CEPI score of 53.14 in the analysis for February-April 2013. In 2010, based on CEPI scores, the Ministry issued moratoriums for projects and expansions needing environment clearances in 43 clusters across the country, including in Tamil Nadu.
However, following the implementation of an action plan to mitigate pollution, the MoEF lifted the moratorium on Coimbatore in 2010 and Cuddalore in 2011. Now, based on the latest CEPI scores, the MoEF, on September 17, lifted the moratorium in Manali since it has shown a decreasing trend in the CEPI index. On the other hand, the freeze on clearances in Vellore has been extended.