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The Environmental Audit of Industries in India

 

Dr. M. Krishnaveni

Assistant Professor, Department of Commerce,

LRG Government Arts College for Women, Tirupur – 4, Tamilnadu, India

 

Introduction

           

Of late the environmental audit has made its place in the total audit system. It is not a new concept, but earlier it has been termed with different expressions like “Environmental Review”, “Environmental Assurance”, “Environmental Quality Control”, etc,. In 1960, the USA and 1970, the UK put the concept of environmental audit into practice in the companies as an aid to proceed towards the green image. In Indian scenario, the Regulatory Authorities like Ministry of Environment and Forest (MOEF), State Pollution Control Board (SPCB), State Department of Environment (SDOE), etc, have come into play to clear the projects from environmental viewpoint before it’s commissioning. The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a pre-requisite to start the industry.

 

The EIA tries to forecast the expected damage to be caused by the development of industries to the environmental and the means required to mitigate that damage, incorporating the same in the project report for the compliance in due course keeping in view the serious threat to all the living beings in the universe by the rapid industrialization which is polluting the Environment to an irreparable extent.

 

The Indian Government, also like other countries, has taken the step of notifying by GSR No.329 E dated 13.02.1992 that “Every person carrying on an industry, operation or process requiring consent Under Section 25 of Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 or Under Section 21 of Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1981 or both or authorization under the Hazardous Waste (Management and Handling) Rules. 1989 issued under Environment Protection Act 1986 shall submit an Environment audit report for the financial year ending 31st March in Form V to the concerned State Pollution Control Board on or before 15th day of May every year beginning.

 

Definition of Environmental Audit

 

            On a bid to define the Environmental Audit, it may be stressed that it is a critical analysis of (I) Policies  (ii) Principles (iii) systems (iv) Procedures  (v) Practices and (vi) Performance of the aspects which relates to the Environment. The EP Act, 1986, defined environment in the lines that “ Environment includes water, air and land, and the inter-relationship which exists among and between water, land, human beings, other living creatures, plants, micro-organism and property” But a standard scope of Environment Audit as ought to be defined and adopted by standard companies, should be as follows “A management tool comprising of a systematic, documented, periodic and objective evaluation of how well environmental organization, management and equipment are performing with the aim of helping to safeguard the environment by:

(i)                 Facilitating management control of environment process,

(ii)               Assessing compliance with company policies which would include meeting regulatory requirements”.

 

Need for the Environmental Audit of Industries 

 

The need for the environmental study of the industries are:

 

(i)                 To evaluate the efficacy of the utilization of resources of man, machines and materials, and

(ii)               To identify the areas of environmental risks and liabilities and weakness/ es of management system and problems in compliance of the directives of the regulatory agencies.

(iii)             To control the generation of pollutants and waste.

 

Significance of Environmental Audit of Industries 

 

            As the Environment Audit, especially in India, is still in its infancy. The information usually gathered in the course of Environmental Audit is only what is required for the compliance of the Statutory requirements, i.e. for water Act, 1974, Air Act, 1981, etc and the environment clearance required before establishing an industry. Through the acceptance of total Eco-system steps on all industrial units have not been encouraging due to the reservation of the industrial units, Still a stringent step by the States Concerned is becoming a vital matter which must be put into consideration of all industrial units which directly or indirectly interface in the orderliness of the Eco-system.

 

Main areas of Environmental Audit

 

The main areas of the environmental areas of the industries are as follows:

 

1.      Layout and Design: The layout to be sketched in style which will allow adequate provisions for installing pollution Control devices, as well as provisions for upgradation of pollution measures and meeting  the requirement of the regulation framed by the government. In the course of  audit, the areas which requires attention but not attended to by the industry to be pinpointed as well as the future requirements of the environmental measures required in commensuration with the future course of working plan are to be identified

2.      Management of resources: It includes air, water, land, energy, raw materials and human resources besides others. The uses of all resources are inter-linked and the best uses of resources in a synchronized manner results the best output and minimum wastage. The wastage of resources to the minimum possible extent is good for the health of the industry.

3.      Pollution Control System: An effective pollution control system should be in existence. One aspect should be whether all required pollution control measures are in vogue or not and the next aspect should be whether the same is effective or not. Further it is to investigate, whether more measures are required, keeping in view the type of industry and its nature of working with respect to it’s grade of polluting environment.

4.      Emergent Safety Arrangement: The chemical, gas, etc industries , in which are prone to sudden requirement of safety arrangement, must be kept alert all the while. The emergency plans are to be reviewed periodically, sufficient staff along with other required safety amenities should be kept. The staff must possess the required awareness and alertness to meet the contingency.

5.      Medical and Health Care Facilities: The medical services should be maintained. The health of the workers should be a big consideration for the management.

6.      Industrial Hygiene: Proper system should be in vogue to eliminate industrial unhygienic state. As the occupational health hazards varies from industry to industry due to the difference in the nature of working atmosphere and pollutants present  in it, the concerned industry must pay proper weightage to those diseases which are prone to that particular type of industry.

7.      Information Assimilation and Reporting System: The information system should be strengthened and its reporting system should be proper, keeping in view, the authorities, responsibilities and subsequent delegations. A report of compliance of all statutory environmental laws along with other preventive and precautionary measures should be put to Board at regular intervals. 

8.       EIA Methodology: The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is usually a pre-requisite to start an industry.

9.      Compliance to the Regulatory Mechanism: As the persons who are directly working with the system, may be unaware of the latest development and requirement for the compliance of stipulation and standards prescribed by the various regulatory authorities, they should be trained and instructed on regular basis, to avoid making the Board / Owner Vulnerable to prosecution and penalty. This is done considering the known spheres of activities of the existing environmental conditions. But the predictions necessarily deviate from the actual happenings when the industry starts working. To accommodate the deviation in the system  it is also to be incorporated in the EIA report.

10.  Concern for the Society: The industry very often transforms the agrarian environment into an industrial environment. The people so displaced by industrialization feel alienated and  are not prepared  to face the gaseous, dustful, clumsy state of surroundings. The audit should look into this aspect  on how the industry is making a balance between its own development and the Society’s concern.

 
Audit Procedure

 

The audit is to be conducted at regular interval, and internal audit should be supplemented to review the efficiency, effectiveness and to identify the training requirements of the audit staff. The small or medium unit does not call for an elaborate and / or formal system, but somebody is to be given charge to look after the matter. But when the concern is a big one, it needs a well-planned system. The environmental audit is termed in different names with the difference of the nature of its working:

 

1.      Social Benefit Audit - is used when industry deals mainly with huge acreage of land.

2.      Emergency Planning and Response/Safety Audit- is used when it is a chemical industry.

3.      Resource Audit- is used when the resource consumption is very high, irrespective of the nature of the industry.

 

Audit Personnel

 

The audit personnel should be abreast of every minute details of all environmental legislations, should possess the knowledge of all polluting agents and their arresting system. They should be highly qualified with specialization in environmental science.  They should also possess the knowledge of the working of the concerned industry, but should not be associated with the day to-day operations of the industry.

 

Audit Format

 

The probable format of Environment Statement should be mandatory for all Indian industries. The various details to be incorporated in the environmental audit form are name and address of the industry, date of last environmental audit, consumption of water and other raw materials, pollution generated in air and water, generation of hazardous waste, the disposal practice for different types of waste, practices sorted for the conservation of natural resources, additional investment proposal for environmental protection.

 

Conclusion

 

The study will help to ascertain the input of raw materials and output to ascertain the balance, which is solid, liquid or gaseous waste emitted to the environment. Also the steps taken to abate the pollution. The study will also give the picture of energy recovery by recycling the waste, the efficiency of the environmental management and it will also recommend if any further long-term pollution free operation can be employed.