The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Shift order on polluting units
- 70 per cent industries in high-risk category
  • Waste stored and disposed in a crude manner could spark a blaze, threatening the area
  • Liquid waste, especially the acid from gold-manufacturing, chemicals and ink going down the CMC drains, is a health risk
  • Lead scrap, when mixed with the natural drainage of a residential area, could prove fatal

After the tanners, it is now the turn of the other polluting industries to be pushed beyond city limits.

The government has labelled 70 per cent of the 15,000 industries in the Calcutta Metropolitan Area and its neighbourhood “polluting” and announced that they must all shift.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said at Writers’ Buildings on Thursday that these polluting industries did not have the required permission and were operating in flagrant violation of West Bengal Pollution Control Board norms.

“The state Pollution Control Board, the CMDA and the industries department will formulate an action plan on shifting these polluting units. We will not compromise with pollution. However, we will ensure that the interest of the workers is protected,” declared Bhattacharjee.

The chief minister also released the final report on identification and mapping of industries in the 1,700-sq-km Calcutta Metropolitan Area, drawn up by the CMDA. The agency has divided the 15,000 industries into red, orange and green zones. “The green zone includes industries that are pollution free. The red and orange zones cover the polluting units that constitute 70 per cent of the total number of industries. They will have to shift,” warned the chief minister.

It is learnt that over 8,000 of these polluting units are in and around Calcutta and, adding an even more dangerous dimension, about 70 per cent of them are located in residential areas.

Urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya, who is also CMDA chairman, said the government had broadly identified six sites for relocating the polluting industries, spread across 41 corporations and municipalities in Calcutta, Howrah and Hooghly. “We have thought of relocating these polluting industries in west Howrah, Uluberia, Kalyani, Dum Dum, Barrackpore and Gayeshpur. Before the relocation process begins, the Pollution Control Board will hold talks with various chambers of commerce to seek their opinion on the shift plan,” said Bhattacharya.

CMDA officials said the report not only focuses on “spatial information” about the location of different types of industries but also gives a detailed outlay of their polluting capacities, enrolled employees, finances and other socio-economic criteria, like discharge area and extent of solid and liquid wastes.

“It is hoped that the final report on mapping of industries will pave the way for a new era by identifying the polluting industries with their socio-economic background for finalising a comprehensive relocation strategy to benefit the state, in general, and Calcutta, in particular,” said an official.

The report pointed out that the industries identified have no effluent treatment facilities and no proper arrangement for fire safety or control over emission of smoke or other polluting elements. The most dangerous observation is how the space crunch has blurred boundaries between the industrial and the residential, compounding the damage potential of polluting units.

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