Jasodharpur Industrial Area (JIA) of the State Infrastructure and Industrial Development Corporation of Uttarakhand (SIDCUL) has about 20 factories producing steel using induction furnaces. Situated near Kotdwar town of Pauri Garhwal district in Uttarakhand, JIA was set up in 1996-97.
Since 2008, the local communities have been complaining and agitating against the pollution from factories in the JIA. Their main concerns are air pollution and improper solid waste disposal. After protests in 2008 and 2009 also the Uttarakhand Environment Protection and Pollution Control Board (UEPPCB) allowed the factories to operate with no concrete action. In December 2011, the people aggrieved by the increasing pollution levels, decided to come on the streets. They blocked the road to the industrial area and refused to move till their demands were met. One of the demands of the people was to get an environmental assessment of the area done by the New-Delhi based NGO Centre for Science and Environment (CSE). The UEPPCB in December 2011 requested CSE to carry out an environmental impact assessment of JIA. CSE agreed to do the study. The CSE study involved a preliminary visit to JIA, collection of information from various sources, comprehensive survey of the operating factories and interaction with various stakeholders.
What we found:
JIA factories are operating illegaly: The UEPPCB informed CSE that these factories are operating without consent to operate (CTO) which implies that all of them are illegal. But what is indeed shocking is that these factories continue to operate in spite of this.
These factories are polluting: Our site visits and analysis conclude that there is huge air and land pollution in JIA and surrounding areas. Air pollution is more pronounced during night hours.
Pollution control equipment inadequate: The air pollution control equipment installed in these factories is inadequate and non operational which means immense fugitive emissions within the factory premises. Also, in the absence of effective capture by the equipment, most of the emissions escape through the roofs of the factories. Some factories were operating even without a stack.
Slag disposal is leading to massive pollution: At present, the site of slag dumping is situated on the banks of River Sigaddi Srot which is a tributary of River Ganga. This is highly unplanned and in addition to land pollution, this will lead to immense water pollution as well during rainy season.
Poor raw material quality leading to more emissions: Most of the factories at JIA use scrap as raw material. The scrap is of very poor quality and usually unsegragted which is causing a lot more air pollution.
Miscellaneous: These factories do not have any technical staff and usually being looked after by an accounts person, linesman, etc., which points to their lack of capacity. Also, no proper accounts of production, water and electricity use are maintained. Workers' health is seen to compromised as there is no provision of sanitation facilities, no protective gear during operations, etc.
What needs to be done?
Order closure of factories operating without a consent: All factories which are operating without a CTO should be shut down with immediate effect till the time the UEPPCB grants them the consent. UEPPCB should grant consent only to those factories which it feels will be able to meet the norms.
Upgrade pollution control equipment: These factories should be asked to upgrade their pollution control equipment within a period of three months to meet the norms. UEPPCB may provide technical assistance for the same.
Pollution control: Separate electricity meters to be installed at all equipment and electricity consumption to be monitored by UEPPCB. A facility to monitor ambient air quality in and around JIA should be set up within a period of three months. A common effluent treatment plant (CETP) needs to be installed in JIA to treat effluent from wet scrubbers installed in factories. A time period of three months should be given for installing the CETP.
Monitoring: Regular and rigorous monitoring of JIA should be carried out. Surprise night inspections are a must. Those found flouting norms should be severely punished.
Slag disposal: As much as possible the solid waste being generated at JIA – slag, should be reused in cement manufacture, construction, etc. For the rest of the slag, a new and scientific landfill site needs to be designated within six months.
Disclosure: Pollution status of the area should be made public whether these are the quarterly inspection reports of UEPPCB or ambient air quality data or electricity use data.
Raw material quality check: Proper raw material quality control should be carried out for these factories.
Miscellaneous: Water meters and electricity meters to be put in the factories. Unpaved roads within JIA to be black topped to check fugitive emissions. Proper sanitation facilities should be provided to the workers at JIA factories.