Good job bringing this to light. People won't realise how huge the problem is and municipalities are woefully ill equipped to...
Agreed; mining can never be sustainable, but then how do you get the metals to make all the things you need in the course of...
Very good piece.
THE VILLAGERS of Pali, 30 km
from Delhi in Faridabad, are up ip
arms over a move to set up 300 stone-
crushing units on panchayat land
that was once theirs and have gone to
court to get a stay.
The Faridabad Complex
Administration (FCA), acting on a
Supreme Court order to relocate the
units from the Faridabad-Delhi border, had merged the panchayat lands
of Mohabatabad and Pali villages,
and, circumventing an otherwise
lengthy process, acquired 2,025 ha
on which it plans to relocate the crushers.
In a classic case of the not-in-my-
backyard syndrome, the court on
May 16 ordered that all stone crushers along the Delhi-Faridabad border
close and shift because they are polluting Delhi's air. M C Mehta, the
advocate who sought the shifting,
said the court was not satisfied with
the pollution control measures taken
by the crusher units and hence they
had to be relocated.
The Pali villagers are protesting
because the FCA-acquired land con
2 sists of grazing grounds and is a
source of firewood. The villagers also
claim that Pali is downwind of the
new crushing site and that dust will
be blown into their homes. "Is it only
rich people's children who get tuberculosis? Are the lives of our children
any less precious than those of the
city folks? Yes, only because we are
farmers and have to listen to the city
sarkar," says Pali's sarpanch,
The decision to shift the crushers
has been opposed by all concerned.
The crushers are unhappy as their
transport costs will
quadruple; the labourers The Pali
have been without work
for the last four months; are prote
and the mine owners
have had to close as because I
most of the crushers
have not been installed FCA-acqired at the new sites yet.
K P Nyati, who heads land com
the environmental cell of
the Confederation of grazing A
Indian Industry, says
what is needed are and is a
"more realistic standards
and a better enforcement
regime, which would have made
more sense than merely relocating the problein."
According to Central Pollution Control Board
standards, the amount of suspended particulate
matter (SPM) emitted by the crushers should
not exceed 600 microgrammes per cubic metre of air
at a distance of 10 m from the unit. But
the amount of SPM at a busy
intersection in Delhi
is often much higher.
Experts also point out that
there are simple and
effective steps to cut down dust
pollution from the units. The
National Productivity Council
discovered the dust generated
could be reduced by 80 per cent
simply by enclosing certain
This was also -a profitable move
as the dust, and not just gravel,
could be collected and
sold. The crushers started
building sheds, not out of a desire to
control pollution, but to make money.
At Pali, the
concentration of crushers will be as
high as it was earlier. At the moment,
the area is
but once the
huge complex of stone
crushers iomes up, worker tamps
follow. Delhi's voracious appetite for
land will also
ensure its spread,
bringing the problem back to where it
'Shifting, at best, is
3olution," feels Nyati.
Besides raising transport charges,
Ie shifting will also
increase fuel use and pollution. "Given that Delhi is
the main consumer of the
stones, it is
ridiculous to move the crushers
further out," says an
expert, referring to
the red problems of truck
Crushers will take at least a year to
start operations at
the new site. Because the
crushers are closed,
so are the stone mines as
there is no offtake of stones.
Dinesh Kumar, a mine owner in
Mewla village, says the court order
has knocked the bottom out of the
economy of the place. Most of the
labourers have either gone home to
Bihar and eastern UP or to Delhi to
get other jobs.
The FCA is the only entity which
stands to gain. Each plot at Pali is
priced at Rs 10.8 lakh and another Rs
4.5 lakh is being charged from each
unit owner for electricity. Additional
charges will be levied for water,
labour accommodation and parking,
as and when they become available.
Salina town, 35 km from Delhi,
will be another stone-crushing centre.
A committee headed by the district
commissioner has identified seven
sites outside the town where 200
stone crushers can be located. The
town's residents have no objections
to these out-of-town sites but are
opposed to the 40-old crushers within the town. As many as 70 per cent
of the people living near these units
suffer from respiratory diseases, says
S B Kaushal, a divisional engineer,
around whose house there are three crushers.
There is also an ethical issue,
points oat one environmentalist. "If
Delhi needs the gravel for its building, then it should also be prepared
to suffer the pollution or pay to
improve the conditions. Why should
it simply relocate its problems in
The labourers working in the
crushers were the worst affected by
the pollution, and for them, the
future remains as dusty.