86% Mandi Gobindgarh industries issued show-cause notices for causing pollution
Taking a serious note of rising air pollution levels, the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) has issued show-case notices to 205 (86%) of a total of 239 rolling mills and other industries in Mandi Gobindgarh, also known as Punjab’s steel city, as why their approval to run the units should not be cancelled.
These units have failed to switch over to piped natural gas (PNG) from coal, said the board in an action taken report it submitted to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Friday (March 5).
Mandi Gobindgarh is among Punjab’s 9 “non-attainment” cities, including, Dera Baba Nanak, Dera Bassi, Ludhiana, Nangal, Patiala, Khanna, Jalandhar and Amritsar. Non-attainment cities are those which consistently fail to meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for PM 10 or NO2. The board has not served notices on industries in other cities so far.
“We have issued notices for cancellation of consent under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, as only 34 industries in Mandi Gobindgarh have successfully converted their re-heating furnaces from coal to PNG. Besides, 123 units have entered an agreement with PNG providers and are in the process of shifting,” the report reads.
A board official said there are some technical issues between the PNG suppliers and industries over some clauses of agreement and the cost of switching from coal. The shifting process involves financial cost of ₹25-30 lakh per unit and three months’ time.
PPCB member secretary Krunesh Garg said they are making continuous efforts to push the industries towards clean fuel to curb air pollution.
“Earlier, we had fixed the deadline of March 31, 2020, for this and later we extended it up to December 31. We will cancel consent if they fail to comply and they will not be able to operate their units,” he said
“A meeting was arranged between the representatives of industries, gas provider agencies and the department to resolve the issues last month. In some cases, the units have been leased out and the lessees are in a dispute with owners over bearing expenses of the process,” Garg added.