Dhanbad, Sept. 19: The Union environment and forests ministry has recently lifted a green moratorium from Dhanbad, along with nine industrial areas across the country, clearing the deck for a number of new projects awaiting clearances in the district.
Satisfied with the Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board’s measures and a drop in the overall pollution level, director Dr P.B. Rastogi, the Union environment ministry, issued a notification in this regard on September 17.
However, industries in Dhanbad will continue to remain under the green scanner and all new projects and expansion or modernisation of the existing ones will have to follow the approved action plan prepared by the state pollution board.
Further, the state board will have to review implementation of the pollution-control measures periodically and submit its reports to the Central Pollution Control Board.
The ministry may re-impose the restrictions if the action plan is not implemented properly and pollution levels go up.
Nevertheless, the development has brought cheers to the coal belt traders and industrialists.
“The move will pave the way for small industries in the district, creating huge employment opportunities for the local people,” said Rajiv Sharma, the president of Federation of Dhanbad Zilla Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
He added more than 650 applications for new small and medium size units were still pending before the state pollution control board.
The expansion of Maithon power project from the existing 1,000MW to 1,300MW in Nirsa block has also been stuck owing to environmental restrictions.
The Centre had imposed the ban on setting up of new industries as well as expansion of the existing ones on February 13, 2010, following a survey indicating high level of pollution in four major industrial zones of Dhanbad.
The areas that have been under the scrutiny are Nirsa block, the Govindpur industrial area, Dhanbad municipal corporation area, Jharia municipal corporation area and Sindri industrial area.
Outside the state, nine industrial clusters — Ahmedabad (Gujarat), Asansol, Haldia and Howrah (Bengal), Bhiwadi (Rajasthan), Korba (Chhattisgarh), Kanpur (UP), Manali (Tamil Nadu) and Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh) — were reprimanded by the ministry. All of them have received a breather recently.
A survey conducted by the Central Pollution Control Board and IIT-Delhi in 2010 had identified as many as 88 highly polluted industrial areas across the country.
Of the 88, 43 zones were put in the list of critically polluted areas. Dhanbad was at the 13th position in that list on the basis of the Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index, which indicates levels of water, air, noise pollution, besides pollution control facilities.
Experts attributed lack of pollution control facilities in small-scale industries as the major reason behind Dhanbad being included in the list.
Following the environment ministry’s stricture, a panel, comprising experts from the Indian School of Mines, the Central Institute of Mining and Fuel Research, the central and state pollution control boards, was formed to prepare a comprehensive action plan to check pollution in Dhanbad district.
Under the plan, fixed sprinklers were installed in several collieries, while sewage treatment plants were set up in some BCCL and ECL townships. Heights of chimneys at hard coke industries were also raised to minimise air contamination.
All these measures brought the pollution level down in Dhanbad.