Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Hyderabad City being drugged by Bulk Drug Industry!

 Pattancheru Industrial Cluster

One of the most prominent and notorious pharmaceutical industrial clusters of the country, is around Pattancheru west of Hyderabad City. Over the past 2 to 3 decades, a growing chain of industrial estates has turned about 50 KM stretch of the countryside into an ecological sacrifice zone. In this stretch near Hyderabad, almost 40 percent of the country's bulk pharmaceuticals are produced and a large proportion of them for export. While the Bulk Drug Industry flourishes from exports, the people in the affected villages perish, from toxic effluents discharged from a myriad of drug units, into surface and ground water sources.

Back Ground of Bulk Drug Industry

The Citizens Group approached Hon'ble Supreme Court to get relief from unabated pollution of Surface and Ground water sources and the Soil by untreated and/or under treated effluents, from Bulk Drug Industry, in violation of Water Act and Environment Protection Act. The Supreme Court in W.P. 1056/90 directed that the industry should segregate degradable and non-degradable effluents for treatment by the industry before they are discharged or disposed for further treatment. But unfortunately, the directive is neither observed by the industry nor enforced effectively by the Regulating Agency

The AP Government issued G.O.Ms.No 62 of 28-04-1999, restricting the  establishment /expansion of water polluting Industries- Bulk Drugs, Pesticides (Tech) etc.-in industrial estates of four districts around Hyderabad, in compliance with the Supreme Court interim orders in W.P.No.1056/90, This order was issued primarily taking into consideration, the alarming levels of pollution and long lasting damage done to surface and ground water sources in the immediate neighborhood of Hyderabad Metropolitan Area .

But unfortunately, the Bulk Drug industry continues to indulge in production of the Drugs far in excess of the permitted quantities and / or unconsented (illegal) products leading to heavy pollution of Air, Water and Soil in the areas. As a result MOEF notified Pattancheru-Bollaram Industrial Cluster as one of the critically polluted areas in the country  

Pattancheru – Hell on Earth!

 A survey undertaken by Greenpeace India in 2004 is reported to have found high rates of illnesses in the affected villages where water is shared with bulk drug units. Clinically confirmed cancer was found to be 11 times higher in the study group. Respiratory diseases affected one in every 20 persons. Heart diseases were 16 times higher. Congenital malformations and chromosomal abnormalities were 3.93 times higher. Disorders of blood and blood forming organs were 2.9 times higher and that of skin and sub- cutaneous tissues 2.67 times more. The study was conducted in the villages of Bonthapally, Chitkul, Digwal, Gaddapotharamu, Khazipalle, Kistareddypet, Pasha Mailaram, Pocharam and Sultanpur in Pattancheru, Jinnaram and Kohir Mandals.

 Thousands of acres of formerly good farmland around Pattancheru lie uncultivated during the dry season because groundwater has become unfit for irrigation. The court committee visited 40 "pollution potential" companies in the industrial estates. Of those, 30 were producing drugs or drug ingredients, and only five were complying fully with lenient pollution laws. The court committee sampled 48 wells in the area and found 81 percent polluted beyond an international standard for irrigation water. In accordance with court orders, bulk drug companies are paying to have safe water piped into affected villages for drinking and cooking. But the polluted water is still used for other purposes in the home and on the farm. Pollutant concentrations in streams and lakes range from 12 to 100 times as high as those in an unpolluted lake just outside the contaminated zone, according to the 2004 report of a committee appointed by the AP High Court.


 Despite repeated crackdowns by APPCB, some Bulk Drug Units continue to pollute the Pattancheru area's Air with sulfurous mercaptan compounds that smell like rotten fish ironically, during the production of stomach antacids. Pattancheru area, where normally only the total quantity of pollutants- BOD, COD, TDS etc.-  is tracked, there's almost no information about specific toxic compounds. That is serious, because some of the drug industry's solvents, byproducts and ingredients can harm people even at low concentrations.


Cutting Corners to be Competitive

Many of the units of international repute in the area produce "Bulk Drugs", technically known as "active pharmaceutical ingredients" - raw materials for making Pills, Capsules, etc. As international Bulk-Drug market competition is fierce, the corner-cutting on Waste Treatment is rampant, by resorting to discharge of untreated and/or under treated effluents into surface water bodies, streams, drains, municipal sewers etc. The non- compliance of Rules and Regulations has become a High–Profit Business, paving the road to the profit of the Indian Bulk Drug industry, with ecological and human costs & tragedy passed on to the society.  The Regulating agencies and the State have become passive onlookers; to this reprehensible conduct of the industry, in violation of Article 48-A of The Constitution.

. When it comes to the cost of patented prescription drugs in United States, the sky's the limit. But in global bulk drug market, low cost is the name of the game, and India's People are subsidizing. Over medicated patients in America are inflating the demand for drugs having serious side effects in India. The countries importing Indian Bulk Drugs, who have commitment for Good Manufacturing Practices, Ecology, Human Rights etc., may like to consider   additional "Warnings" on Drugs made out of imported Bulk Drugs from India.

"Side effects, including drowsiness, skin rashes, gastrointestinal distress, neurological disorders, cardiovascular problems and/or cancer, may be encountered by those living near the site of manufacture of this drug."

 "Consumption of this antacid may induce headache, coughing and/or nausea downwind from where it was produced."

 "Some patients may experience sharp pangs of remorse when they learn more about the conditions under which this medication was produced."

Toxicity of Effluents from Bulk Drug Units

It was known for long that Pattancheru area was drenched in pollution by chemicals, solvents, and other, unidentified stuff. But no one suspected that it was an open-air laboratory for breeding antibiotic-resistant bacteria, though   the area had been suffering from awful water quality and widespread health complaints for years. The seriousness of the pollution problem from bulk drug industries at Pattancheru was highlighted in 2007, by Joakim Larsson, an environmental scientist at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.

When he analyzed vials of so called treated wastewater taken from Common Effluent Treatment Plant Pattancheru (PETL), he found the discharge load of Ciprofloxacin, corresponding to approx. 45 kg of active ingredient per day at the highest concentrations ever recorded in effluents. This is equivalent to the total amount of Ciprofloxacin consumed in Sweden (population 9 Million) over an average 5 day period.

 And it wasn't just ciprofloxacin being detected. The supposedly treated wastewater of PETL has 21 different active pharmaceutical ingredients, used in generics for treatment of Hypertension, Heart Disease, Chronic Liver ailments, Depression, Gonorrhea, Ulcers and other ailments. Half of the drugs measured in waste waters are at the highest levels of pharmaceuticals ever detected in the environment.  In economical terms, if the equivalent amount of the 11 most abundant active substances released by PETL during 24 hrs. were to be purchased as final products in a Swedish pharmacy; they would cost over 100,000 British Pounds.


The high value of final product compared to much lower production cost of bulk-drugs, which is reported to be around 15% of the cost in developed countries, appears to be the reason for cutting corners. In the absence of deterrent penal action in the country and pressure from the importing countries, why should Indian Bulk-Drug industry minimize the release of certain drugs into waste waters, involving substantial investments?  In the process, Hyderabad City Population is being "drugged' through various water sources, with record levels of remedies for the maladies they don't have (yet), including ulcers, high blood pressure, and allergies


 AP Bulk Drug Industry- Utter Disregard to Rule of Law!

While the Industry Associations are advocating the Corporate Commitment (Responsibility) to Society, the AP Bulk-Drug Industry seem to be indulging in   manufacture of 'unconsented' (illegal) products, in utter contempt to Society  by claiming that their pollution load has not increased despite increase in production quantity and introduction of new products, by ensuring " Zero Discharge' which is nothing but a myth.

In the light of huge export potential of Bulk Drugs, the State Government, unmindful of serious consequences, acceded to  the request of the Bulk Dug Industry for lifting the Ban on Expansion of Bulk Drug Units, imposed as per the directive of Hon'ble Supreme Court  



Sunday, August 18, 2013

Bulk Drug Units Hoax of Zero Liquid Discharges ( ZLD )?

Back Ground of Ban Order


The APPCB, considering the water pollution problems and the need to protect the Drinking and Agriculture Water sources, issued Notification of 14-10-1996. This notification restricts establishment & expansion of water polluting Bulk Drug Industries in industrial estates of Ranga Reddy, Medak, Mahaboobnagar and Nallagonda Districts for two years from 01-01-97. Subsequently, the AP Govt. issued G.O.Ms.No 62 of 28-04-1999 making the APPCB Ban Notification permanent. This was done in compliance with the Hon'ble Supreme Court interim orders dated. 12.05.1998 in W.P.No.1056/90.


Forces against Ban Order


In spite of the ban order as per Supreme Court directive, the Bulk Drug industries have been indulging in excess production / unconsented products with impunity all these years. The penal action for the violations is being circumvented by approaching the courts and / or influencing the policy & decision makers.


The Bulk Drug Manufacturers Association (BDMA) advocated the argument that industries, having Zero Liquid Discharges (ZLD) by adopting the state of the art Pollution Treatment Technologies, be permitted to expand their capacities in spite of the Ban Order. It is also argued that as long as the permitted pollution load does not exceed at the point of discharge, the industry be permitted to undertake the production of new products in the banned areas. 


Conceding to the request of BDMA, G.O. Ms. No. 64 dated 25-07-2013 was issued, relaxing the restrictions on expansion of existing Water Polluting Bulk Drug Units in and around Hyderabad. This has confirmed the apprehensions of the public, regarding manipulating capacity of the Bulk Drug Industry .to influence the Policy and Decision makers in their favour.


Myth of Zero Liquid Discharges ( ZLD )?


The decision process regarding relaxation of the ban, resulting in G.O. No. 64, seems to have been unduly influenced by the representation of BDMA claiming Zero Liquid Discharges (ZLD), ignoring the views of the concerned public on the subject.


How is Zero Liquid Discharges going to help the reduction of liquid and solid waste loads generated in the process? How is ZLD going to be evaluated and assessed in the absence of accurate data regarding the material balance of Chemicals, Solvents, Water etc. used in the process, the end product produced & liquid effluents generated?


 End of the Pipeline Treatment no Answer


While trying to achieve ZLD, by reducing hydraulic load of waste waters generated, through upstream segregation, evaporation, recovery etc. process, it will tend to increase solid waste. The total pollution load generated in the process continues to be the same whether in Liquid or Solid form.


The Liquid, Solid & Air pollutants   need to be attacked and minimized / avoided at the very point of their generation in the Production Process that generates them & cannot be eliminated once they are generated.


There is a need for technological up gradation of the production equipment and the process, to minimize both Inputs of Materials & Energy and Outputs of Waste Products & Pollutants. This is the only way to bring down the total Liquid, Solid and Air Pollution Loads in the process itself. The End of the Pipe treatment solutions, such as ZLD, can never lead to real pollution abatement and only ends up in manipulation and dilution of Pollution & Accountability.


ZLD will Prove to be a Hoax  


Before opting for ZLD, the Consent for Establishment (CFE) of the industry should clearly specify the Type and Quantity of the Product permitted per year, the stipulated energy & water consumption and liquid, solid and air pollution loads permitted per unit of product etc.  Without adequate systems, procedures & manpower in place to monitor regulate & control periodically, the ZLD will prove to be a disaster and a Hoax.


 The state of Water Bodies in and around Hyderabad is a testimony to the miserable failure of the present regime of Industrial Pollution Control, by the ill equipped Pollution Control Board (PCB) and its Overbearing Bosses. The Bulk Drug Industry, whose road to profit is paved with environmental crimes, more serious than criminal offences, is willing to take risks, as long as the State does not take stringent penal action against their reprehensible conduct.




"The pharmaceutical industry is the most lucrative, the most cynical and the least ethical of all the industries.  It is like an Octopus with tentacles that has infiltrated all the decision-making bodies, world health organizations, governments, parliaments, high administrations in health and hospitals and the medical profession"


                                                             - Professor Philippe Evans, Director of Necker Institute, France


Friday, August 9, 2013

Durgam Cheruvu & APTDC - Something Fishy!



Durgam Cheruvu, with an area of 25.23 Hectares, is known for its natural beauty and scenic surroundings and received the INTACH Award 1998. The Rocks around Durgam Cheruvu are under HUDA Heritage protection as Heritage Precinct No.1, since March 1998. And more areas in the vicinity of Durgam Cheruvu are notified as Precinct No. 15.  All development activities in notified Precincts need to be approved by the V.C HUDA & the Heritage Conservation Committee.


 HUDA Notification dated 4-5-2000, listing 169 lakes, which   includes Durgam Cheruvu, declares that the entire areas, falling within the Full Tank Level (FTL) of the lakes as per the Survey of India Maps, must be kept free from any type of constructions, irrespective of ownership or any land use or Master/Zonal Development Plans that may have  been previously notified. In addition, a buffer belt of 30 meter width on all sides of each lake must be kept free from all types of construction.


AP High Court Directive


 A P .High Court in its Order of 20-7-2001 on WP.No.36929 of 1998, directed  APPCB, HMWS&SB and the Commissioner, Serilingampalli Municipality, regarding protection of Durgam Cheruvu, to  discharge their respective duties and functions under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and the Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Act, 1989 strictly in accordance with the provisions of those statues.  


The Court also directed that a copy of the order be transmitted to the Chief Secretary to Government of Andhra Pradesh to monitor the functions and duties of the above authorities/agencies in protecting the environment of Durgam Cheruvu.


 Ground Realities


The untreated domestic sewage from the near by residential colonies /complexes. IT parks etc. that have come up in the full tank level (FTL) area, as well as the upstream area of the lake continue to be discharged into the lake, as the domestic sewage generated in the area is estimated to be much more than 5 MLD capacity of STP set up and the alternate arrangements to handle the excess quantity are not in place 


In spite of High Court directive not to permit any   more residential colonies in the vicinity or catchment area of the lake to come up, the   residential complexes/buildings have come up within the full tank   level area of the lake itself. The inventory of buildings that have come up in FTL area and around Durgam Cheruvu during last 12 years will speak for itself regarding the failure of State Administration.


High Court Intervention 


As the State Administration failed to act for protection of Durgam Cheruvu, even after a lapse of 8 years, the High Court had taken W.P. W.P.No 24077 of 2009 suo motto, based on a news item published in the News Paper "The Hindu" dated 03-11-2009 about dumping of construction material near Durgam Cheruvu.


The High Court in its Order dated 2-12-2009 impleaded HMDA as Respondent and directed to appoint a Committee to identify the encroachments within Durgam Cheruvu and to take necessary action to prevent dumping of building material and to plan for clearing the material already dumped. Accordingly G.O.No 12 dated 08-01-2010 was issued appointing the Committee for taking steps required for protection & reclaiming the encroached lands in Durgam Cheruvu


But nothing much seems to have happened during the last three and half years, either to prevent and / or identify the encroachments in FTL area of Durgam Cheruvu and to prevent discharge of untreated / under treated domestic sewage and other effluents into it. The  authorities "See No Evil", "Hear No Evil" , but Keep Doing It.


Durgam Cheruvu & APTDC--"Something Fishy" ?


 The location of Tourism and Recreation spots near water bodies can adversely affect them through alteration and destruction during development activities as well as through the direct impact caused by recreates and tourists. They can also affect the environment by putting additional pressure on local infrastructure facilities such as roads, water supply, sewage system etc. threatening environmental degradation of water bodies. The danger posed by tourism projects to ecosystem is demonstrated amply in and around Hussain Sagar


   The present proposal of APTDC to "facelift"/ "lake lift" Durgam Cheruvu by beautification of the lake environs, hill tops and development of Bar & Restaurant called "Something Fishy" appears to be really Fishy and Durgam Cheruvu may be doomed forever This is in contravention of the stipulation that no construction activity is permitted in and around the water body, except open to sky jetties for boating, platforms for fishing and rain shelters and snack bars each not exceeding 10 Sq.Mtrs in area and not exceeding four in numbers around one water body.


 Durgam Cheruvu will continue to be the tourist attraction, if only it is left alone, without any beautification activities around it and even without "Something Fishy"?