Mumbai: In response to a query filed under Right to Information (RTI) filed by a non-governmental organisation (NGO) Watchdog Foundation, in the Kamala Mills fire case, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) have stated, no permission was obtained from them to operate in the premises.
“We have received information under RTI Act, from MPCB which has stated the officials had not issued Consent to Establish and Consent to Operate to Kamala Mills. This fact has been entirely omitted in the report probing the fire incident at Kamala Mills, given by the Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta,” said Godfrey Pimenta, trustee of Watchdog Foundation.
An official from MPCB, who did not wished to be named, confirmed there was no permission granted from the authorities. Moreover, this permission is needed for any IT (Information Technology) hub to acquire the said permission. It needs to be noted, the Kamala Mills management had acquired NOCs and licences previously for constructing an IT hub and had shown the original plans of open terrace for eating area. The entire plans and design were totally changed for starting pubs and restaurants.
Under the provisions of Water (Prevention & Control of pollution) Act,. 1974, Air (Prevention & Control of pollution) Act, 1981, an entrepreneur running or establishing any industry and discharging effluent and emitting pollutants into any water resources or on land/air and polluting thereby the environmental water/air is required to obtain two consents— consent to establish and consent to operate.
“Consent to Establish is to be obtained prior to establishing any industry or process while Consent to Operate is required once the industry or process plant is established along the required pollution control systems. This consent is given for a particular period, which needs to be renewed regularly,” stated Pimenta.
Since Kamala Mill was shown as an IT Park it was obligatory to obtain Consent to Establish and Consent to Operate to Kamala Mills. Since these approvals were not obtained, MPCB should have suo moto launched prosecution against the owners of Kamala Mills under Water (Prevention & Control of pollution) Act,. 1974, Air (Prevention & Control of pollution) Act, 1981 and Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
“We demand an enquiry into this serious lapse on the part of MPCB, BMC and Mumbai Fire Brigade who granted permissions to them to operate without proper approval,” Nicholas Almeida, another trustee of Watchdog Foundation.