KOLKATA, 10 DEC: A month after the West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB) served a closure notice to the West Bengal Chemical Industries Limited in Lake Town, little is being done for the waste treatment.
The water body inside the factory premises remained covered in a pitch-black slick that flows in an open manhole and is ultimately dumped in the already overpolluted Bagjola canal.
Mr Subhas Dutta, a green activist, who had visited the unit, said that the pond inside the unit was filled to the brim with untreated waste.
The unit was closed after locals complained of foul smell emanating from the unit and also about the smoke and noise that the factory produces. The Statesman had earlier carried a report on how the unit had made the lives miserable in the area. The WBPCB had directed the unit to set up a pollution control system in the premises before approaching the board for consent to operate.
Mr Surajit Pal, general manager of the unit, claimed that a device for pollution control and waste treatment is being set up in the premises and the work is almost complete. When this reporter requested him to show the device, Mr Pal said that it is not possible as the officials of the WBPCB were due to arrive shortly to inspect it. Interestingly, Mr Biswajit Mukherjee, chief law officer of the WBPCB, said that the officials will inspect the unit and look into the measures taken by it secretly.
Moreover, the officials of the unit had been claiming repeatedly that the unit falls under orange category as per the categorisation of the WBPCB. But after a resident of the area filed an application under RTI seeking the nature of the industry, the WBPCB confirmed that it was under the red category.
Industries in the red category is not permitted to operate in municipal areas. Mr Mukherjee said that since the unit was set up in late 50s, it could operate after installation of proper pollution control devices. Units belonging to the red category who have applied for consent to establish after December 1997 are not allowed in Municipal areas falling under Kolkata Metropolitan Area (KMA). Mr Dutta said that apart from installing pollution mitigating devices, such industries are also considered for relocation, as its effluents are harmful for people residing in the area.
The factory ~ M/S West bengal Chemical Industries Limited, Jessore Road, Kolkata. Listed under Red Category by the West Bengal Pollution Control Board. The factory claims to be manufacturing Sodium Butyrate
What officials say ~ When the residents complained about the foul smell coming out of the unit, the officials said that the smell actually helps in digestion and gastric problems, alleged the residents
What doctors say ~ The fumes can damage body’s immune cells and lead to Vitamin B deficiency, cause bronchial asthama, shortness of breath, gastric irritation, nausea, vomiting and several other side effects
Agitation ~ Petitions were submitted by the locals on 3 November, 2006 and 10 August, 2010. A closure notice was served by WBPCB on 10 November, 2010