(Representative image) The demolition drive is part of ongoing efforts to curb emissions from Kalbadevi processing unit chimneys. (Biplov Bhuyan/HT PHOTO)
(Representative image) The demolition drive is part of ongoing efforts to curb emissions from Kalbadevi processing unit chimneys. (Biplov Bhuyan/HT PHOTO)

BMC demolishes chimneys of Kalbadevi gold processing units after complaints of pollution

Around 40 chimneys at gold processing units in Kalbadevi have been demolished by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in the past month following complaints of pollution from residents in the area
By Priyanka Sahoo, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON JAN 19, 2021 01:21 AM IST

Around 40 chimneys at gold processing units in Kalbadevi have been demolished by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in the past month following complaints of pollution from residents in the area.

The demolition drive is part of ongoing efforts to curb emissions from such chimneys, said BMC. Chakrapani Alley, assistant commissioner, C ward, of which Kalbadevi is a part, said, “We are in the practice of regularly demolishing these chimneys whenever they are brought to our notice. If there are complaints, we demolished the chimneys and recover the demolition cost from the gold processing units.”

Kalbadevi is lined with gold processing units operating in small establishments. These establishments release acidic fumes in the air, alleged residents of the area, who have been complaining to the BMC for the past decade.

Last year, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) acknowledged the pollution caused by gold processing units and made it mandatory for all BIS-certified assaying and hall-marking units to seek clearance under the Air and Water Pollution Act. CPCB said that gold processing units release lead oxides and nitrous fumes.

“There are more than 2,500 units with chimneys. These units operate in small establishments that have been rented or sub-let, without any clearance. They process and clean gold with acids. This releases poisonous smoke and acidic fumes which are released in the air through chimneys made of PVC pipe,” said Harikishan Goradia, a Kalbadevi resident.

He said BMC’s efforts to demolish the chimneys were too little, too late. “These chimneys return even after demolition. Unless the root cause is not addressed, which is the unit itself, there is no respite for us. We have been complaining about the fumes to various authorities, but there has been very little response. The emissions are visible to the naked eye and the pollution levels in the area are adversely affecting residents,” Goradia added.

Alley, however, said that BMC would take action against those chimneys that reappear after demolition.

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