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Chemical plant admits 'black ash' emission

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By SAMBIT SAHA
  • Published 9.06.10
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Black ash that fell in a bucket of milk stored to make cottage cheese. (Pradip Sanyal)

Calcutta, June 8: The Calcutta-headquartered Himadri Chemicals today admitted “momentary emission” of soot from its Haripal plant but claimed it was “completely non-hazardous”.

In a statement issued this evening, the company said the emission of “black ash aerosol” was controlled soon.

“It is a fully automatic plant at Haripal. When one of the burners malfunctioned, the operation tripped,” claimed CEO Anurag Choudhary.

He alleged that some local miscreants took advantage of the situation, misguided the villagers and eventually ransacked the plant and its office, causing damage of around Rs 50 lakh.

The black ash aerosol emitted by the Haripal plant is chemically identical to the black ash aerosol produced on burning a candle, the release said.

“It is completely harmless to all plant or animal life. It is completely non-hazardous, non-inflammable and harmless.”

The BSE-listed company has four plants in India, including one at Liluah in Howrah, and one in China.

The company claims to be India’s leading manufacturer of coal tar pitch, which is used in the aluminium industry.

Himadri has invested Rs 600 crore in the Haripal plant, set up in 2005. It employs around 1500 people.

“The unit is a coal tar distillation plant. The manufacturing process does not involve any acid or other harmful chemicals either as raw materials or as catalysts. It does not produce any harmful discharge or effluent, either in liquid or gaseous form,” the company said in the statement.

It claimed that the plant not only conformed to all norms laid down by the West Bengal State Pollution Control Board but adhered to global environmental and waste management standards.

Himadri began its business in 1993 with the Liluah plant. Last financial year, it clocked a turnover of Rs 505.93 crore, an increase of 34 per cent over the previous year. Its profit also rose to Rs 107.34 crore from Rs 46.77 crore a year before.

The company attracted investment from a private equity player earlier this year. US-based Bain Capital pumped in nearly Rs 260 crore in Himadri Chemicals.