The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ceramic units shut for air pollution

The West Bengal Pollution Control Board (PCB) has shut six ceramic units in Belghoria and its adjoining areas after the owners of these units failed to fulfil certain norms laid down by it to check air pollution.

Last year, the PCB had issued a circular instructing the owners of all the 41 ceramic units in the area to run their furnaces on diesel to check air pollution.

Earlier, the owners would fire the furnaces with coal, polluting the air beyond permissible limits.

The PCB had directed all the units to convert their furnaces by June last year.

“But many of the owners had failed to go by our guideline. Instead, they met the environment minister and sought time to fulfil the criteria. The minister accepted their plea and it was decided that the furnaces would be converted by October 2002. But many of them failed to keep their word and we have taken steps against the units,” said Biswajit Mukherjee, senior law officer of the PCB.

Mukherjee said the Board would not allow ceramic units to run on coal. “We have urged the Eastern Coalfields Limited (ECL) not to supply coal to these units and we will not allow them to use coal furnaces,” he claimed.

But some of the owners alleged on Thursday that the PCB was not allowing them to run their units, though they had implemented its guidelines and converted their furnaces into diesel-run ones.

They alleged that electricity connections to their units had been snapped on PCB instructions and they were facing a financial crisis, as their units were lying closed for the past month-and-a-half.

Mukherjee, when contacted, admitted that most of the units had converted their furnaces. But they were still using their coal furnaces, instead of switching to the newly-installed oil furnaces. “There are about 41 such ceramic units and only six of them have not followed our guidelines. So, we have taken action against those only,” claimed Mukherjee.

The PCB will hold a meeting on Monday to decide the fate of the closed ceramic units. “We will tell these errant units to follow our guidelines, otherwise we will not allow them to operate,” said Mukherjee.

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