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Pollution see-saw

Calcutta, Jan. 17: Minister Partha Chatterjee today cited clearer air to appeal for lifting the central environment ban on industrial expansion in Haldia, but figures with the state’s green board showed pollution had increased nearly four times within a year.

Data generated by the state PCB — and shared with the National Air Quality Monitoring Programme — showed the average respirable particulate matter, a key pollutant, had touched nearly 400 micrograms per cubic metre in December 2012 from around 115 micrograms in December 2011. The permissible limit is 100 micrograms per cubic metre.

Industries minister Chatterjee appealed to governor M.K. Narayanan to take up with the Centre the environment ban.

“Proposals worth Rs 20,000 crore are pending because of this environment issue… The chief minister has also requested the Centre. Sir, you may kindly take up the matter with the Centre so that industrial growth is not impeded in Haldia,” he said at the valedictory session of the Bengal Leads business summit.

The PCB pollution figures, however, showed a sharp decrease during the summit. While the average respirable particulate matter value in Haldia was 184.65 micrograms from January 1 to January 12, the average plummeted to 41.87 micrograms from January 13 to 16.

Environmentalists expressed surprise at the figure.