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'Jaypee's cement plant still polluting environs'

May 12, 2012

Ambika Sharma
Tribune India

Environmentalists resent feeble action by pollution control board

Solan The Him Parivesh Environment Protection Society today alleged that the cement grinding and blending unit of Jaiprakash Associates Limited at Bagheri continued to pollute the area as massive toxic dust was visible, especially early in the mornings.

Society president Jagjit Singh Dukhiya said, "Despite the High Court verdict on the company, the project continues to pollute the area and there is massive toxic dust in the air, especially early in the mornings."

The issue was keenly discussed during a meeting convened by the society at Nalagarh today where Dukhiya discussed the issue relating to gross violation of pollution-related norms in the Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh Industrial Area at length.

It was decided that Him Parivesh would regularly monitor the air quality and suspended matter with the help of local people. Taking support from Community Environmental Monitoring Centre, a Chennai-based toxics watchdog group, Him Parivesh would keep track of pollution levels and submit regular reports to the government as well as the Himachal Pradesh High Court.

"We think the pollution control board has neither the will nor the capacity to monitor pollution levels in the area," added Shweta Narayan of CEM, Chennai, while expressing concern at the poor regulation by the state pollution control board.

"In fact, we will track the water and air pollution levels in the entire BBN region and release a detailed state of the environment report within six months to expose the negative impact that the uncontrolled industrial growth has had in the region," added environmental activists Rahul Saxena and Manshi Asher, who were also present at the meeting.

Him Parivesh activists alleged that the "single-window clearance" mechanism was a corrupt system of approving industrial set-ups and there was no transparency on the nature and capacity of the investments. Citing the Jaypee example, they said the real investment details were revealed only after the plant became operational and by then, it was too late to take action.

Targeting the pollution control board, Laxmi Singh Thakur, vice-chairman of Him Parivesh, said, "The board merely issues show-cause notices like empty threats and there is no follow-up action, including closing the polluting units or prosecuting the erring units for violating environmental norms."

The group also pointed out that the Supreme Court order of 2003 on the declaration of hazardous chemicals and wastes on boards displayed outside factory premises stands grossly violated in the BBN Area. Him Parivesh has resolved to compile information on all companies violating this order and make a submission to the Supreme Court in the matter.

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