Ganga river
20 water recycling plants to be set up along the Ganga river. Picture: Aerial view of river Ganga in Varanasi.Wikimedia commons

The Environment Ministry has ordered the closure of 150 industrial units along the Ganga, after they failed to install 24x7 monitoring systems. The firms ordered to close include sugar mills, chemical units, slaughter houses and tanneries.

According to Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had developed a plan to reduce industrial pollution in the river. Of the 764 Gross Polluting Industries (GPIs), 514 have already installed Online Continuous Effluent Monitoring Systems (OCEMS), while 94 are in the process of doing so, Press Trust of India said.

The shutting down of the industrial units will result in thousands of workers losing jobs.

"Closure orders have been issued to the 150 remaining units and the responses of six other units are under examination. This is the biggest action taken till date on the issue of abatement of pollution in Ganga or any river in the country. When they (the units) give an action plan and order the machines, we can think about giving them permission. Till then they will be closed," Javadekar told reporters in New Delhi on Thursday.

According to reports, the environment minister has said there has been a notable reduction in industrial pollution in the river. Last year, the CPCB had constituted vigilance teams and reportedly carried out inspections at the industrial units in December 2015 and early January 2016.

Javadekar said the inspections were performed to "confirm the facts relating to conservation of water, reduction in waste water generation and pollution load". 

The industrial units to be closed include six slaughter houses, nine paper and pulp units, 10 chemical units, 28 textile units and 68 tanneries.

"The total waste water generation and its organic load in terms of Biochemical Oxygen Demand from 764 GPIs as per the 2012 assessment was 501 MLD (million litres per day) and 131 tonnes per day," Javadekar told the Press Trust of India.