Jorhat, Sept. 12: The National Green Tribunal’s recent order, which penalised the state government for failing to curb violations of the no-development zone around Kaziranga National Park, has caused concern within the tea industry because the order has also come down heavily on 25 factories falling within the area.
On Tuesday, representatives of those tea estates, which might have to be closed down according to the conditions laid down by the judgment passed on September 7, met at the North East Tea Association headquarters at Golaghat and discussed the implications of the order.
Tea industry sources told The Telegraph that if 25 factories are closed down then there might be far-reaching implications. Issues of unemployment, sharp fall in tea production and labour resentment are sure to crop up.
According to the judgment, 22 factories were within the no-development zone and three were within its 500-metre outer periphery. Sources said some of the gardens were over 150 years old and if the factories are suddenly closed down, then there would be a big impact on the industry leading to a crisis.
At the meeting, it was decided that the judgment would be discussed with legal experts to know the exact interpretation of the order and to know the legal options available to appeal against the order in the Supreme Court if necessary.
“We want to get certain clarifications of the order from legal experts with regards to whether the factories have to be closed down or could be run by adopting certain measures,” one of those who attended the meeting said. It was also decided that officials of the state government would be sensitised about the enormity of the fallout of the judgment.
The tribunal order, quoting the Central Pollution Control Board, said 22 factories were within the no-development zone while three were within its 500-metre outer periphery. The 22 tea-processing units located within the no-development zone have installed boilers, for which coal, oil and wood was the main feed stock and the said units had not installed any pollution-control devices.
“The State Pollution Control Board and other authorities are directed to ensure that tea-processing units with boilers and using fossil fuel operate within the no-development zone and take immediate steps to stop their operation… The three tea leaf-processing units located within 500 metres of the outer periphery (of the NDZ) should be allowed to operate only if necessary pollution control measures as may be stipulated by the SPCB, Assam, are adhered to by those units,” the order stated.
The tribunal also said all tea-processing units must install acoustic enclosures in their electrical generators used for providing alternative electricity.