FIR against Durgapur plant

By J Basu
Published: Thursday 15 October 2009

West Bengal gets strict with polluting government undertakings

on august 24, the West Bengal Pollution Control Board registered a police complaint against Durgapur Projects Limited (dpl), a state government undertaking, for violating pollution norms. It is the first time the government initiated criminal action against a public sector undertaking.

On June 11, the board ordered the dpl unit, close to Durgapur city centre, to shut down its coke making unit and by-product plant. By-products like naphthalene are produced when coal is converted into coke.

The coke oven and byproduct plant were found discharging toxic effluents into the Damodar river.

The two units continued to operate.When senior board officials visited the plant in August, they found that dpl had started operating a new thermal power unit without seeking permission.

"We have filed a police complaint against the top five officials of dpl. A separate case has been filed in chief judicial magistrate's court under Water (prevention and control of pollution) Act, 1974," said Biswajit Mukherjee of the state pollution control board.

Kolaghat Thermal Power Station, another state government unit, was fined Rs 10 lakh for excess emissions and discharging fly ash into two irrigation canals.

In the case of the Mejia thermal power station managed by central government-owned Damodar Valley Corporation (dvc), the air pollution levels were so high that the pollution board ordered the relocation of an entire village--Lotiaboni.

"Even breathing has become difficult due to pollution caused by fly ash. We want compensation for relocation and medical treatment," said Madan Mohan Mondal of Save Lotiaboni Committee, a community group.

dvc had approached the state appellate authority against the order of the pollution board. The authority headed by a retired high court judge, set up an expert committee to verify facts of the case. The panel corroborated the pollution board's findings and ordered the plant to close operations.

"We have found dvc had submitted a false analysis to support its contention that there is no significant pollution in the area, said Mukherjee, the board's chief law officer.

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