The controversy over the use of polluting coal by industries in the Taj Trapezium Zone in Agra has assumed political overtones. Local politicians are siding with the industrialists to stall the implementation of the Supreme Court (SC) order in this regard.
As per the SC order, industries would have faced closure after December 31, 2001, if they did not switch over to clean natural gas as fuel. In a preemptive move, owners of these units went on a strike in the last week of December. "Local politicians from major political parties, including the member of parliament from Agra, came out in our support," revealed Rajesh Goyal, secretary, Agra Iron Foundries' Association.
The protests notwithstanding, the city's administrative machinery is abiding by the verdict by cracking down on errant industries. On January 1, 2002, a 100-odd foundries still using coal were grounded. Since then industries linked to these foundries have also been shut down.
Earlier, in October 2001, the SC had asked the polluting industries to file an affidavit that they would either use natural gas as fuel for their foundries or shift out of the ecosensitive Taj Trapezium Zone after December 31, 2001 (See 'Hope on the horizon', Down To Earth , Vol 10, No 12, November 15, 2001).
Industrialists initially sought refuge in the plea that natural gas-based technology was unavailable in India. However later they seemed satisfied with the domestic trials of these technologies. "The latest trials were carried out on December 11, 2001 but there are still a few problems," said Goyal.
Foundry owners are now trying to import the gas-based technology from Russia and Ukraine. For this they recently approached the Union ministry of small-scale industries.
"But bureaucratic delays are coming in the way of technology import," claimed Goyal.
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.