KOLKATA, 11 FEB.: About 52 per cent of the sponge iron factories in the state fail to meet emission standards and do not comply with green norms as the West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WPCB) does not monitor these factories regularly, shows finding of a study on the sponge iron industry released by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a New Delhi-based research and advocacy organisation, in the city today.
The study also finds that repeated offense is a common practice amongst these factories as the WBPCB board did not carry out stack monitoring for one-fourth of the sponge iron factories in the state even once every year.
More than 40 per cent of the sponge iron factories in the state have been found to be violating environmental norms when inspected by the WBPCB and the action taken by the board ~ show cause and closure notices and even closure of factories in some cases ~ have not had the desired effect, reads the report.
The main environmental concern associated with the sponge iron industry is air pollution. This is largely attributed to non-installation or non-operation of pollution control equipment.
According to the study, in the state, most of the sponge iron factories are found to be running with air pollution control equipment. But installation of pollution control equipment does not necessarily mean operating them and meeting emission standards. “92 per cent of the inspection reports show abnormally high emissions from kiln and the night inspection reports show 100 per cent of the sponge iron factories bypassing pollution control equipment,” said Mr Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general of CSE.
The study finds that most of the sponge iron factories in the state are not disposing their solid waste properly, leading to air and water pollution and degradation of land. “Our pollution control boards are weak and our enforcement actions too feeble to enforce compliance,” said Mr Naba Dutta, secretary of Nagarik Mancha, a city based NGO.
Mr Bhushan stressed on the need for changes in the Environment Protection Act and strengthening of the pollution control boards to enable effective monitoring and enforcement.
The CSE study has documented the environmental and social impacts of 15 sponge iron clusters spread across Orissa, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. These clusters have become the hub of protests owing to pollution from these factories destroying agricultural fields, associated impact on health and change in livelihood patterns.