Residents of three societies from Sion have complained that a ready-mix-concrete (RMC) plant located near their complexes is causing air and noise pollution, leading to several of them falling ill.
An RMC plant is a factory or batching plant where cement mix is made in large quantities, mostly used for construction.
An official from the private RMC plant said the operator had spent nearly Rs70 lakh to meet the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board’s (MPCB) norms. “We put up tin sheds that are more than 10-feet tall and barricaded the periphery of the plant. We installed dust suppression systems. We created a two-level tyre washing technique to reduce dust. Senior MPCB officials visited our plant and gave us consent to operate,” said the official.
Residents of Everard Nagar, Lokmanya Pan Bazaar and Harshad housing societies in Sion have filed repeated complaints with the MPCB over the past two years, demanding that the plant be shut down and relocated. However, no action has been taken against the plant operators.
“Trucks exiting the plant leave behind cement on the roads in front of our buildings. This has led to dust pollution, which has been causing eye irritation, breathing troubles, cough and cold for a lot of residents,” said Saraswathi Sundareswaran, resident of Everard Nagar. “Either the plant should be shut or the trucks need to use an alternative route,” she said, adding 500 residents began a signature campaign to shut the plant but the authorities did not act.
A resident of Lokmanya Pan Bazaar housing society said the process of cement batching and constant movement of trucks had led to high noise levels. “The plant has caused sleepless nights for our children as each time a truck passes through the narrow roads, our walls start to vibrate,” said BS Farale, secretary of the society.
An official from the plant said the residents had a problem with the trucks using the service road in front of the societies. “The road is also marked on the city’s development plan and can be used by trucks,” he added.
According to MPCB guidelines, RMC plants must create a 100-m buffer zone from residential areas and arterial roads. Most plants do not follow this.
MPCB officials said similar complaints were filed last year by residents and the plant had been given a notice. “After we intervened, the plant was shut down for a few months this year. It installed dust separator, collection systems and complied with all our guidelines,” said the sub-regional officer of the area, MPCB. “The plant has taken the consent of various departments of the civic body and is functioning without causing pollution,” he added.
The land owners, Somaiya Trust, which has a cancer hospital in the same vicinity as the plant also refuted the residents’ allegations. “The RMC plant only uses wet slurry. There is no question of dust emanating from there. It has not caused any issues for any of our patients either,” said V Ranganathan, representative, Somaiya Trust.
What is an RMC plant?
An RMC plant is a factory or batching plant where cement mix is made in large quantities. From here, the mix is delivered to construction sites in trucks with mixers that keep rotating to prevent it from getting dry. Such a plant can produce 80 to 100 metric cubes of concrete daily.
A 2010-’11 study by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) on the sources of pollution in Mumbai found that construction activities alone were responsible for a whopping 8% of the city’s pollution.
An RMC plant near your home? Does it have...
A dust separator and collector system
A mechanism to sprinkle water across the plant so dust particles settle
Water sprinklers to settle the dust after trucks leave the plant
A compound wall around the machine
Trees around the machine
A system to collect and dispose waste
Is it at least 100m from residential areas and arterial roads?
Citing problems faced by the residents, the NGO Watchdog Foundation filed a complaint with the state environment department last week. “The plant is responsible for damaging flora and fauna around a 10m radius. There has been a substantial drop in green cover, which is visible from satellite images. Asphalting of roads, 33% green cover and water fogging is not being done as per the pollution board mandate,” said Godfrey Pimenta, trustee of the Foundation.