Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee will be a happy man on Thursday afternoon, as he hands over the Environmental Excellence Awards to two of his oft-disgraced industrial flagships, Haldia Petrochemicals and the Bakreswar thermal power plant. Of a strong field of about 20 industries, Haldia and Bakreswar have been jointly selected for the top honours, while Indian Aluminium of Belur and ITC Ltd of Tribeni, have come in second and third.
The award, the first of its kind constituted jointly by the West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB) and the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC), is aimed at pushing environment management as a tool of competitiveness within industries.
“The aim is to encourage a pro-active environmental approach among potentially-polluting industries and also their level of self-monitoring. In the process, the committee has considered various parameters, like environment policy, commitment of the top management to the cause, awareness, approach to cleaner production, social responsibility, community outreach programmes and safety issues,” said Dipak Chakrabarty, chief scientist of the WBPCB.
Haldia and Bakreswar, said experts, are technologically comparable with the best, especially where environmental control is concerned. “But what is more important is the commitment, discipline and efficiency of the respective teams, including their top management. They are unlike the sarkari offices we have known over the years,” observed Professor Siddhartha Dutta, chemical engineer from Jadavpur University.
Most of the nine shortlisted companies were found to have shown exemplary commitment to the immediate community by providing “treated water for surrounding agricultural lands or actively supporting health and literacy programmes”. In fact, the water-harvesting programme of Bakreswar has improved the ground water level of the entire area.
Nazeeb Arif, secretary-general of the ICC, said: “The commitment of some of the managements to the environmental aspect has been exemplary, but the real eye-opener has been the attitude of workers in increasing productivity. It is time that one starts changing perceptions about the industrial work culture in the state.” And Prof Shyamal Sanyal, chairman of the expert committee, added: “It is really heartening to find that union leaders are so much more aware of and concerned about health, safety and environmental issues.”