Amid rising concern about public health in industrial towns, the Centre has put on hold the expansion of 43 industrial clusters that have reached alarming and critical levels of pollution. The Union environment and forest ministry, along with the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, narrowed down on the 88 most-polluting industrial clusters across the country and found that 43 of these have reached their upper limit of expansion in terms of air, water and land pollution. The first-of-its-kind report in the country was released on Thursday in the capital.
Each cluster was given a score for the level of air, water and land pollution out of a maximum of 100 marks. Besides, a comprehensive environment assessment score was awarded — higher the number, more polluted is the cluster. After the three-month-long study, environmental experts found that 10 industrial areas have reached alarming level of pollution. Amid rising concern about public health in industrial towns, the Centre has put on hold the expansion of 43 industrial clusters, including five in Maharashtra, that have reached alarming and critical levels of pollution.
These are Ankleshwar and Vapi in Gujarat, Ghaziabad and Singraulli in Uttar Pradesh, Chandrapur in Maharashtra, Korba in Chhattisgarh, Bhiwadi in Rajasthan, Angur Talcher in Orissa, Vellore in Tamil Nadu and Ludhiana in Punjab. The air, land and water pollution levels in these 10 clusters have reached alarming levels, said Ramesh, adding that another 33 industrial areas have been found to be at the critically polluted level.
“Expansion plans have been put on hold in the 43 most-polluted industrial clusters because we have started getting complaints from state governments and civil right groups, who have pointed towards health hazards caused by industries,” said environment and forest minister Jairam Ramesh. He also said that there was a need to carry out a study to find out the impact of pollution on people living in the area, food chain and water supply.
Besides Chandrapur, four other highly polluting industrial clusters in the state are Dombivli (ranked 14), Aurangabad (17), Navi Mumbai (30) and Tarapur (36).
Nashik (ranked 45) and Chembur (46) are also among the 88 polluting industrials identified in the country.
State pollution boards should immediately come up with an action plan in two to three months so that the work to improve the situation could start at the earliest, Ramesh said. The industries that were found to be highly polluting were aluminium smelting, pharmaceutical, caustic soda, cement, copper smelting, dyes, fermentation, fertilisers, iron and steel, leather, oil refinery, pesticides, petrochemical, sugar, thermal and zinc smelting.
“Once the action plans are ready and I get a broad idea of what is needed to be done, I would personally take it up with the finance ministry to create a ‘Clean-Up Fund’ in the finance budget,” Ramesh said.