The Problem: 

The town of Vapi marks the southern end of India's "Golden Corridor", a 400 km belt of industrial estates in the state of Gujarat which includes Nandesari, Ankleshwar, and Vapi. There are over 50 industrial estates in the region including more than 1,000 individual industries that extend over more than a thousand acres. Many of these are chemical manufacturing estates producing petrochemicals, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, textiles, dyes, fertilizers, leather products, paint, and chlor-alkali.

Local produce has been found to contain up to 60 times more heavy metals (copper, chromium, cadmium, zinc, nickel, lead, iron) than non-contaminated produce in control groups. Heavy metal analyses have revealed that both the effluents and sediments collected were contaminated with cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel and zinc. Sediment samples were found to contain 17 organohalogen compounds, including chlorobenzenes and PCBs as well as a range of other organic compounds including benzene derivatives and pesticides. 

Health Impacts: 

Many residents have no choice but to drink contaminated well water as other clean water sources are more than a mile away. The Indian Medical Association reported that most of the drinking water supplies are contaminated, because of the absence of a proper system for disposing industrial effluents. This has resulted in very high incidences of respiratory diseases, chemical dermatitis, carcinoma, skin, lung and throat cancers. Women in the area report exceedingly high incidences of spontaneous abortions, bleeding during pregnancy, abnormal fetuses, and infertility. Children's ailments include respiratory and skin diseases and retarded growth. 

Status of Clean-Up Activity: 

In the late 1990s, Vapi Industries Association incorporated the Vapi Waste and Management Company to set up and operate a common effluent treatment plant to collect and purify effluents from the major plants. However, the operation of the plant has been determined to be unsatisfactory by the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee. The efforts to improve the local river and water quality are hampered by the haphazard dumping of sludge from the treatment plant and the widespread dumping of various industrial and hazardous wastes in the general area. There has been considerable NGO activity and efforts by environmental authorities effective cleanup at the various sites remains limited. 

Several treatment, storage and disposal facilities (TSDFs) are now coming into operation in the area and can deal with some of the ongoing wastes but in the absence of a comprehensive and commited clean-up effort, the problems in Vapi will remain.