Haryana’s draft notification on stone crushers nothing but ‘old wine in a new bottle’: CSE

New Delhi, December 2, 2022: Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) says a recent draft notification issued by the government of Haryana, aimed at improving the environmental performance of the state’s stone crushing industry, has failed to meet its primary objective. The draft notification, issued in November, makes no effort to correct the anomalies of an older guideline and adds a few of its own. 

Nivit K Yadav, programme director, industrial pollution, CSE says: “Stone crushers have become a major source of fugitive emissions owing to theirextremely polluting process of crushing stone into smaller-sized stones or powder. To add to that, the sector suffers from poor infrastructure. Even with a slight wind or movement of vehicles insidea plant or on the approach roads, an enormous amount of dust pollution happens.” 

In order to control such fugitive dust, the Haryana State Pollution Control Boardhas come up with the draft notification elaborating siting criteria and pollution control measures to be adopted by units. The state already has a notified guideline for this sector; this draft will supersede the existing one. 

In its recent report on the sector -- Implementation Challenges of Environmental Guidelines in the Stone Crusher Industry (To download: https://www.cseindia.org/implementation-challenges-of-environmental-guidelines-in-the-stone-crusher-industry-11164)–CSEfound that a majority of units surveyed in Haryana do not comply with the existing state guidelines. All except two of the surveyed units performed poorly on the parameters set to understand the implementation of state guidelines and infrastructure for pollution control. Six out of 12 units could not score any mark in the environmental performance rating. 

However, the draft notification has still not made any efforts to improve the environmental performance of stone crushers located in the state. 

Siting criteria

Compared to the existing guidelines, the new draft notification has reduced the minimum distance of a stone crusher from placesof importance. For example, the minimum distance of a stone crusher from a national or state highway has now been reduced from 1 km to 0.5 km; the distance from a municipal corporation has been shortened from 3 km to 2 km. 

Stone crusher zones are established in Haryana only after considering the availability of raw materials, and as a check on illegal mining. But the new siting criteria is allowing crusher units to be located outside existing or approved zonesas well (except in the cases of Faridabad, Palwal and Gurugram). Says Yadav: “Collectively inspecting units that are inside a crusher zone is a more practical option than inspecting individual units. It will be a cumbersome job for SPCB officials if units are scattered. There is evidencethat cases of illegal sourcing of raw materialsare more prevalent in areas where crushers are located outside the zones.” 

CSE researchers also point out that a majority of stone crushers in the state areill-equipped to control fugitive dust emissions. “The Haryana government should review the siting criteria in the draft notification and take steps to prohibit stone crushers from operating outside crusher zones,” adds Yadav. 

Pollution control

The draft notification states that suspended particulate matter (SPM) measured between three to 10 meters from any process equipment of a stone crushing unit,must not exceed 600 microgramme per cubic meter. According to CSE researchers, this norm is usually met by units only when an inspection and monitoring exercise is underway – a plant’s operational capacity is reduced purposely during this period to ensure the criterion is met. On all other days, when the units operate at full capacity, there is substantial dust emissions. 

CSE recommends that to understand the actual SPM load from these units, the government should install ambient monitoring stations both inthe upwind and downwind directions of the crusher zone. As Haryana already hasdedicated crusher zones, this measure can be easily implemented in the state. 

Both the olderguideline and the new draft notification have mandated stone crushers to have a dust containment-cum-suppressing system for equipment in the form of covered sheds and sprinklers. The criterion, according to Yadav, is vaguelyworded and does not offer any specific directions. He says: “The guideline should specifically mention that the sheds should be provided on all sides as well as at the top.” 

A provision for 50 sprinklers has been mandated -- however, the number of sprinklers will not serve the purpose unless they are installed at appropriate locations. Thus, the notification should specify the location of sprinklers to get the desired results.Yadav says crusher operators are hesitant to use water sprinkling as it increases the maintenance cost of the machine and deteriorates the product quality. An alternative to this can be the use of a dry extraction system which can be used for extraction and collection of dust. 

Both the older guideline and the draft notification call for metalledroads within the premises, to be built individually or jointly by the crushers inside an approved crusher zone. Both have authorised the SPCB to cancel the operation of stone crushers where such metalled roads are not satisfactorily constructed or maintained. CSE researchers say that except for the Mohabtabad crusher zone in Pali, other crusher zones in Indri Rewasan (Nuh) and Raisina (Gurugram) do not have metalledroads and turn extremely dusty during vehicular movements; of all the units surveyed by the CSE team, only one was found to have metalled roads within the plant. 

Yadav has a word of appreciation here for the Haryana government. He says, “In its draft notification,the state has pushed for laying of tiles in the entire area of the unit. This will not only help in improved dust collection, but will also reduce the dust arising because of vehicular movement.” 

“But all said and done, Haryana’s draft notification seems to be aiming at ensuring ease-of-doing-business for stone crushers. Except for a few lines, the notification is just a verbatim copy of the existing guideline. The state government needs to first understand why the existing notification failed to achieve its desired result. This can be done by conducting an audit of the older notification and identifying the measures that are implementable and those that are not. Simply coming out with a new draft notification without due diligence on the failure ofthe older notification will not help either the regulators or the stone crushers,” says Yadav. 

For further details and interviews etc, please contact Sukanya Nair at sukanya.nair@cseindia.org, 8816818864.