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Row over pollution control power

Calcutta, Aug. 13: Not just green activists. Even industrialists, officials and politicians ' including some from within the government ' are protesting the move to curtail the pollution control board’s regulatory power over industry.

Environment minister Manab Mukherjee had said on Thursday that from September the board would not be the sole authority to grant “consent to establish or operate” to firms or order closure of polluting units. The task will be assigned to “broad-based committees” and the board will provide technical inputs. The new system would bring in transparency, Mukherjee said.

Murmurs of protest have been heard even from the minister’s party. Musalin Molla of the CPM, chairman of the Assembly committee on environment, said: “I have not been consulted'”

An environment department official said: “In 1998, only 4,000 units had environmental consent. Now, there are around 40,000 units. Is that a poor record'”

Indian Chamber of Commerce secretary-general Nazib Arif, a member of the newly-constituted panel, said “the board officials, with their technical expertise, should have the regulatory power”.

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