JK Heads Towards Environmental Disaster

JK Heads Towards Environmental Disaster

7 August 2012
Greater Kashmir
Akshay Azad

Jammu: The state of Jammu and Kashmir, with highly fragile eco-system, is heading towards a major environmental disaster as it has become a dumping ground for several thousand tonnes of hazardous waste generated every year in hundreds of industrial units with no facility for its proper disposal. Several industrial units falling in yellow and red category in Jammu and Kashmir are producing more than 20,000 metric tonnes of hazardous waste annually but in absence of disposal facility same is being stored inside the premises of industrial units. Pesticide units, recycling units of metals, battery units, pharmaceutical factories, paper and pulp factories, steel rolling mills, paint factories, ink factories, chemical factories, oil factories, petroleum factories and others are the industries which produce hazardous waste. Under anti-pollution norms such a material can be stored for only 90 days and after that it shall be disposed off scientifically, but the situation in Jammu and Kashmir is quite different. While the State Pollution Control Board is authorized to permit storage of such material just for 90 days, but in absence of any disposal facility, the permission was being extended for last many years, said an insider. Sources in Pollution Control Board (PCB) told Greater Kashmir that as per the inventory submitted to Central Pollution Control Board in 2007, 194 industrial units in the State were producing 16958.16 metric tonnes of hazardous waste annually. “In the last five years, 100 more industrial units of these categories have registered with PCB taking the total number of such units to 300 which are producing hazardous waste. The quantity of hazardous waste has also increased in last five years and approximately it will be more than 20,000 metric tons annually,” sources informed. “In absence of treatment, storage and disposal facility for hazardous waste in the State, the permission for storing the waste can be extended. Since the establishment of these types of industrial units in Jammu and Kashmir, they are storing the waste inside the premises of their units and the permission of storing the waste is being extended by PCB for last many years,” they said. They further said that most of the industrial units falling in red category are in Samba industrial area and have become an impending threat for the local populace with huge stores of poisonous material. “Recently around 20 cattle heads were killed after they drank poisonous water from outside the Samba industrial area,” a source in PCB said. He further said that continuous storage of hazardous waste by industrial units for last many years could cause great damage to the fragile environment of the State but government was not serious about creating a disposal facility in the State. They further informed that in 2007, following the directions of PCB, the Jammu and Kashmir State Industrial Development Corporation had submitted that the land had been notified for setting up Treatment, Storage and Disposal Facility (TSDF) at Industrial Growth Center Samba, but the same has been delayed for unknown reasons. Sources further informed that even after five years the SIDCO authorities have not been able to identify the land for the establishment of TSDF in Samba. “The company which had proposed to set up the TSDF plant in Samba has demanded more than 200 kanals of land, but only 64 kanals of land has been identified so far,” sources further said.