In a U-turn by the state pollution control board, 15 out of 32 ready-mix concrete (RMC) plants were allowed to resume operations in the city on the basis of installing pollution-remediation measures.
However, a city-based not-for-profit organisation has alleged that the plants have been operating without abiding by state directives for over a month.
HT had reported on March 13 that the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) had shut down 32 RMC plants found to be flouting pollution-control rules.
As part of the new directives, RMC plants are required to submit an ‘environment statement report’ to the MPCB by September 30 every year. The report should incorporate measures such as an air pollution control system, regular air-quality monitoring, dust collector system, proper sewage effluent treatment and disposal system, water sprinklers for dust suppression and a minimum of 33% of the available open land for tree plantation.
MPCB officials said that they will carry out surprise checks at plants that have started operating from now until September 30. “We have only granted permission to those plants that have installed a majority of pollution-abatement measures. Our sub-regional officers will follow up with every plant to check whether the rules are being complied with,” said BP Solunke, Mumbai regional officer , MPCB.
Meanwhile, a survey carried out by NGO Watchdog Foundation at five RMC plants that recently resumed operations at Malad, Nahur, Aarey and in proximity to Sanjay Gandhi National Park were found to be functioning without any water sprinkling facility, negligible green cover and no sewage treatment facility.
“RMC plants are one of the main causes for dust pollution at residential areas and the damage of flora and fauna,” said Godfrey Pimenta, trustee, Watchdog Foundation. “It is strange that MPCB allowed the plants to resume operations before they implemented all measures according to Environment Protection Act.”
According to MPCB guidelines, RMC plants must create a 100-metre buffer zone from residential areas and arterial roads. Pimenta said that most plants do not follow this.
Citizens close to the RMC plant in Aarey said that it had not been sprinkling water to control dust pollution. “When trucks leave the plant, there is a large amount of dust in the air. While there is no green cover inside the plant, large trees outside the plant premises are dying because of the dust deposited on leaves,” said Mangesh Jadhav, a resident of Aarey.
“We have installed a dust separation and collection system, and also carried out a sapling plantation drive within the premises. Even during the monsoon , we are spraying water to ensure there is no pollution in nearby areas,” said an official from an RMC plant, Malad.