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Pollution axe on stone crushers

Ranchi, July 28: At least 89 iron ore crushing units, located in mineral rich West Singhbhum, East Singhbhum and Seraikela-Kharsawan districts, will have to shut down as the state environment and forest department has decided not to renew their existing licences.

A notification issued by the state forest and environment department said licences of all existing iron ore crushing units located outside the mining lease areas in the three Kolhan districts would not be renewed by the Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board (JSPCB).

The notification added that no licences would be issued either to any new iron crushing unit proposed outside the mining lease areas of the three districts. The decree explained that the step was taken after the National Pollution Control Board in early January this year identified Jamshedpur, West Singhbhum, Barajamda and Seraikela-Kharsawan as some of the most critically polluted regions in the country.

“One hundred and forty two crushing units are currently in operation in these districts. Of these, 53 have already been shut down. For the rest, a review would be undertaken in the light of the state notification and appropriate steps would be initiated to comply with the directives,” JSPCB member secretary R.K. Sinha told The Telegraph.

Sinha, however, added that none of the 89 remaining crusher units currently in operation are illegal. All these units hold a valid licence and a no-objection certificate issued by the JSPCB.

The state notification comes in the wake of a letter from state chief secretary Ashok Kumar Singh to all deputy commissioners (DC) of the districts which said that they along with the respective superintendents of police (SP) would be held accountable for illegal smuggling of iron ore in their districts.

“The state has taken a serious view of the rampant illegal mining, transportation and use of iron ore. Task forces at the state and district levels are already in place to check the menace. To lend more teeth to the state operations, the responsibility of putting a check to the menace would rest on the DCs and SPs at the district level whilst at the block level, the responsibility shall vest with the block development officers and DSPs. Periodic review meetings would also be organised to test the efficiency of state operations,” the letter said.

However, sources disclosed that there are many more illegal crushers that are in operation in West Singhbhum, particularly at Noamundi, which are supposed to be prime source of illegal smuggling.

Sources said the many illegal crushers that are in existence would continue to thrive as they are patronised by powerful politicians who would prevent law enforcement agencies from taking tough action against them.

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