KOLKATA, 26 AUG.: The state needs industries and sponge iron units cannot be done away with, said Mr Sailen Sarkar, environment minister, today. He, however, added that as such units would inevitably cause pollution, they should be made to take remedial measures.
Mr Sarkar was speaking at a meeting on ‘Nirmal Nadi Abhijan’ organised by the West Bengal Pollution Control Board at Paribesh Bhawan today.
He also said that many complaints are received against the sponge iron units and some of them are even slapped with fine. “But if all the units are shut down, people would demonstrate and ask that where would all the workers go?” He also praised the Union minister for environment, Mr Jairam Ramesh, for not granting Vedanta environment clearance for its bauxite-mining project in Orissa. He was reacting to the point raised by the WBPCB chairman, Mr PN Roy, that at some places, sponge iron units have polluted ponds that are the only source of drinking water for the nearby villages. “The WBPCB has inspected some of the areas around the sponge iron units. A woman showed us rice that was black in colour. Also, animals have been dying in the village after drinking contaminated water and leaves with residues,” said Mr PN Roy. Mr Roy had also said that the WBPCB has to withstand several coercions from the state and well as the Union government while carrying out its activities.
Mr Sarkar said that even the Centre has allotted more funds for the Yamuna Action Plan than the Ganga Action Plan.
He lauded the newly elected members of municipalities for taking active participation in the Nirmal Nadi Abhijan and said the Kolkata Port Trust should share the responsibility of keeping Ganga clean.
When a representative from an NGO asked about sewage outlets that dump untreated water in the river, Mr Sarkar said: “We have been asking the municipalities to treat their waste water but they say they don’t have money.” It should be noted that there are 324 sewer outlets between Kalyani and Diamond Harbour.
Mr Dipak Chakraborty, chief scientist of WBPCB, said that the World Bank would be funding the project aimed at monitoring the rivers online. He said that the state urban development department also had a meeting with the WBPCB to launch an awareness campaign for clean rivers.