Punjab pollution board gets strict with jaggery units
The norms come after patients at a primary health centre at Boothgarh village near Kharar in Mohali district were found to have respiratory problems caused by five jaggery units in the surroundings.Updated: Mar 01, 2018 20:28 IST
To control the menace of smog and ensure hygiene, the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) on Thursday issued stricter norms for ‘gur’ (jaggery) units across the state. These will now have to be set up their units at least 300 metres away from residential units or any public institutions or utilities, such as schools and fuel stations. And they can only use approved fuels such as dry wood or dry bagasse of sugarcane.
The chimney will have to be set up at least 30 metres away from the road and 32 feet high (9.75 metres), meaning that many roadside units face closure for now. Packaging of the products too will have to be done properly, in either plastic sheet or glass, in such a way that dust or flies do not come in contact with them.
According to the officials of the PPCB, there are more than 1,000 roadside jaggery units, and at some places up to 300 kg is produced daily.
The norms come after patients at a primary health centre at Boothgarh village near Kharar in Mohali district were found to have respiratory problems caused by five jaggery units in the surroundings. The Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) took notice of a complaint by the senior medical officer (SMO), Dr Daler Singh, and the PPCB was ordered to resolve the issue and issue new guidelines. In Mohali alone, along the three stretches of Chunni-Landran, Banur-Landran and Boothgarh, there are at least 29 such units.
PPCB environment engineer Lavneet Dubey explained the current situation that necessitated the norms, “Height of chimneys is usually 10 feet, and the smoke gathers in the instant vicinity of the unit. Most importantly, in winters when the business of jaggery is at its peak, the smoke mixes with the fog and forms a dense layer of smog on the roads, hampering visibility”.
SMO Dr Daler Singh, when contacted, said, “Newborn babies and the nearby schoolchildren were getting affected with the pollution from the jaggery units, following which I opted to file a complaint in October 2017 with the human rights panel.”
PPCB chairman Kahan Singh Pannu had held a meeting with the jaggery producers at Saneta village on the Banur-Kharar road at a unit. “The norms have been devised after experimenting and taking note of shortcomings in the manufacturing of jaggery. Manufacturers have agreed to the new norms. Those who don’t adhere will face strict action.”