House green panel comes hard on polluting industries

SHILLONG: The Committee on Environment, Meghalaya Legislative Assembly, has vowed to check the pollution level in the state’s two industrial areas in Byrnihat and Umiam.
During a media tour of the Umiam lake and industrial belts in Umiam and Byrnihat on Thursday, the committee headed by its chairman SK Sunn and members HM Shangpliang and George Lyngdoh said the pollution problem in Byrnihat needs immediate attention.
Sunn said the state government’s action plan to reduce the pollution level in Byrnihat to the permissible level within two years has been approved by the Centre with some suggestions.
The permissible level of carbon dioxide and other pollutants is 250-400 parts per million depending on the traffic congestion and presence of industries. The air quality index of Byrnihat as measured in the first week of July is 123 whereas 0-50 is considered as ‘good’. Besides the state’s industrial belt, the coke factories on the Assam side are also adding to pollution in the air over Byrnihat.
Recently, CP Marak, principal chief conservator of forests, said both the states would deliberate on how to fight the problem.
The committee said the state’s measures to control pollution would become futile if Assam continues to pollute the air and the neighbouring state should not be allowed to set up polluting industries along the border.
During an inspection of an alloy factory in Byrnihat, the members asked the company, Maithon Alloys, what pollution control measures has it taken up. To this, the company said it has adopted bag house working principle to remove particulates or gas released from the commercial processes out of the air.
Later, an employee of Maithon Alloys told The Shillong Times that there is no separate pollution control department in the factory whose owner lives in West Bengal.
Umiam industrial belt
At the Umiam industrial belt, the committee inspected a sawmill unit and enquired about the consumption of wood. Unhappy with the answers of the employees at the unit, the committee decided to soon meet operators there.
“There are around 40 such units there. We checked one and now we know how they operate. Now we will act likewise to control deforestation,” said Shangpliang.
The sawmills and veneer units produce solid and hazardous waste, liquid waste and air pollutants. According to a data available, the units recycle plastic waste and saw dust and veneer waste are sent to briquetting unit for manufacturing of briquettes.
The committee, which “was not satisfied with the inspection of polluting industries on Thursday”, will work in tandem with the state pollution control board, the forest department, MeECL, MIDC and other stakeholders to address these two issues.

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