The Joint Inspection Team (JIT) formed by the Impact Assessment Division of the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change has issued show-cause notices to thirteen industrial units for non-compliance of pollution norms in Asansol industrial belt. All these thirteen industrial units had been given a thirty- day time frame to reply to the show-cause notice. But, according to the ministry sources, only four of the thirty industrial units have responded to their show cause notices within the stipulated period.
“It is important for environmental compliance that the units furnish their response on time so that the ministry can take timely necessary action for curbing pollution under the existing statutes,” said Union minister of state for environment, forest and climate change and also Asansol MP, Babul Supriyo. The ministry has constituted a Joint Inspection Team for monitoring the compliance status of sponge iron units, integrated steel plants and cement plants located at Asansol under Burdwan (West) district in the wake of the growing environmental pollution in the region.
This initiative of the MoEFCC was to address the rising pollution in the area because of which Asansol now has the dubious distinction of figuring in the list of non– attainment cities in the National Clean Air Programme. The JIT comprised members from RO, MoEFCC Bhubaneswar, Central Pollution Control Board, state environment impact assessment authority, West Bengal, West Bengal pollution control board to ensure coordinated efforts and inputs of state and central government, central government sources said.
Dr Shruti Rai Bhardwaj, of the L.A Division of the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change has issued the show-cause notice to these non-complying units. The notices have been issued under Section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act. Union minister and Asansol MP, Babul Supriyo, had last year warned that he would take steps against factory owners who are responsible for polluting the environment in his constituency. Thereafter the Union ministry took the initiative to form the JIT.
Incidentally, a study on research and management of pollution level in the Durgapur barrage in River Damodar and Tamla Nala (drain) in Durgapur of West Bengal had been sanctioned by the BRICS community. Both these water bodies have faced severe problems due to continuous discharge of poisonous industrial effluents. National Institute of Technology (NIT), Durgapur has been entrusted as the nodal agency of this vital job.
About three years ago, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had listed Asansol and Durgapur amongst the 30 most polluted cities in the country due to presence of high percentage of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide in the air but lifted the ban on March 2017. According to a recent data analysis released by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), India is the world’s largest emitter of anthropogenic sulphur dioxide, which is produced from coal-burning, which is a whopping 15 per cent higher than other anthropogenic sulphur dioxide hotspots in the world.