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Bengal plans sensory tech watch on polluting sponge iron units

Our Bureau

Kolkata. Nov. 25

PERTURBED by the high level of air pollution created by 30 odd sponge iron plants that have come up in the State in the last few years, the West Bengal Pollution Control Board is planning to take the help of sensory technology to ensure round-the-clock vigil. The sponge iron plants are reportedly switching off the emission control machinery especially during the night to save on the energy bill.

Located mainly in the South Bengal districts of Burdwan, Bankura and Purulia, the sponge iron units have attracted social protest for degrading the environment and causing damage to agricultural production.

Reacting to the public outcry, the government has been trying to crack the whip on the errant sponge units during the last few months. Most of the units have been found to be polluting the environment by simply switching off the emission control machinery and have being fined as a result.

Addressing a seminar in Bengal National Chamber of Commerce and Industries here, the WBPCB Chairman, Dr. Sudip Banerjee, said that despite being tough with sponge iron units, there has been hardly any improvement in the situation.

"We do not have adequate infrastructure to keep a round the clock vigil. Moreover, to test the pollution level we currently have to carry equipment, which is not possible at night," he said.

To tackle the issue, WEBPCB is now thinking of making use of sensory technology, which would alert the board immediately if the emission control equipment is kept switched off.

Meanwhile, steps have been taken to force industries in the State to take regular approval from the PCB. "We currently categorise industries as red, orange and green. Red industries are considered to be the most harmful in I their impact on pollution and are subject to strict scrutiny. On the other hand, industries in the green category do not require that sort of scrutiny and control.

"However, most of the complaints we receive concern industries in the green category. This suggests that these industries flout norms by taking advantage of their status. To solve the problem at its root, we are looking for a regulatory mechanism," Dr Banerjee added.

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