CPCB’s new guidelines for India’s stone crusher sector a welcome step

CPCB guidelines in alignment with recommendations made by non-profit Centre for Science and Environment

By Shobhit Srivastava
Published: Friday 26 May 2023
CPCB’s new guidelines for India’s stone crusher sector a welcome step
Photo: iStock Photo: iStock

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) published the Environmental Guidelines for Stone Crushing units May 12, 2023. 

The stone crusher sector is responsible for significant fugitive dust emissions and causes severe air pollution. The Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority (EPCA) banned the operation of the stone crusher units, along with brick kilns and hot mix plants, under the implementation of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).

The CPCB document outlines ways to measure source emissions, store materials and other general principles to combat air pollution from stone crushing units. 

The guidelines are in alignment with the recommendations made by New Delhi-based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

CSE had earlier pushed to reduce the air pollution from the sector and highlighted the suggestion in its report Implementation challenges of Environmental Guidelines in the stone crusher industry published in February 2022. 

In this report, the organisation recommended ways to reduce emissions from stone crushers and also provided the financial aspects of implementation of pollution control measures.

Advocating the need to revive the guidelines for the stone crushing units, CSE conducted a consultation workshop with nine SPCBs from September 20-22, 2022. Based on the deliberations, CSE proposed guidelines for stone crushers and shared them with all state pollution control boards along with CPCB in March 2023.

The measures proposed by CSE were for individual processes as well as controlling fugitive emissions from the sector in general. The non-profit also suggested guidelines for regulatory and monitoring mechanisms of SPCBs.

For the process-specific source of emissions in a stone crusher, the pollution abatement measure needs to be taken for each point source, CSE had recommended. This was among the suggestions included by CPCB in its guiding document. 

Stone crushing products tend to get air-borne under the effect of strong winds and worsen the surrounding air quality. To tackle this, the central board also added measures for product storage as well. 

CPCB’s guidelines also include general measures for air pollution control to be followed in the stone crushing units. However, beyond what CSE had proposed, the CPCB guidelines talked about transportation with covered vehicles, wetting of internal roads for dust suppression, water consumption and legal source of raw material, which is a good inclusion since water availability is an issue in many parts of the country. 

However, the document doesn’t mention a water consumption cap to check over-utilisation of the resource by these units.

CPCB guidelines will prevent stone crushers from operating without consent to establish or operate, which is a much-needed clause as many of the stone crushers in the country are illegal.

CPCB guidelines also advocated a district-level committee to be constituted under the chairmanship of the district magistrate / deputy commissioner to conduct surprise inspections for surveillance of stone crushing units. 

However, it is not clear if the regional office of the concerned state pollution control board will be included in the committee or not.

It is required to involve SPCBs as this will help the authorities to take immediate actions against the non-complying units and will improve enforcement in the long run.

Provision of a half yearly health survey of workers employed in a stone crushing unit is also a welcome step by the central authority. 

“Points related to dedicated crusher zone, provision of ambient air monitoring and construction of metalled roads has been proposed by the CSE team and it has been accepted by the CPCB and included in the guidelines as well,” said Nivit Kumar Yadav, director, industrial pollution unit at CSE.

“CPCB guidelines doesn’t mention anything about the timing of operation of the standalone stone crushers, which should have been included as noise emissions from these units are generally high and operate at night,” highlighted Yadav. 

This leads to the inconvenience and discomfort to the residents living nearby the stone crushing units, he added.

Last but not the least, CSE is of the view that the guidelines issued by CPCB should also have mentioned the timelines for the stone crushers to adhere to the guidelines and should have given directions to SPCBs to look into the enforcement of the guidelines at their end.

CSE’s proposed guidelines vs CPCB’s new guidelines

Points CSE proposed CPCB status Additional points included by CPCB
Process-wise source of emissions and measures to be taken for pollution abatement: Unloading of raw material for storage, unloading of raw material into hopper, primary crushing / jaw crusher, secondary crushing, screening, tertiary crushing, conveyor belts, discharge points  Accepted and included in the guidelines Product storage:
  • Properly designed telescopic chute of adequate length of suitable material should be provided at ends of conveyer so that dust generated from this section is contained at source
  • All open stockpiles for aggregates of size above 5 mm should be kept sufficiently wet by water spraying
  • Stockpiles of aggregates of 5 milimetres size or less should be covered to ensure that same is not carried away (or whipped out) by wind
General measures: Wind breaking walls, roads, housekeeping, plantation, housing structure to ensure movement and sign board Accepted and included in the guidelines

Transportation: Vehicles carrying any kind of material should be completely covered with suitable material.

Regular wetting of roads should be carried out to suppress dust within premises to control air borne dust emission

Water consumption and handling: Unit should provide settling tanks of appropriate size and recycle & reuse of water in process. Crusher should provide a water storage tank with adequate capacity. In case of use of groundwater, stone crushing unit should obtain permission for abstraction of groundwater from Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA)/Ground Water Department (GWD) of State/UT. Unit should maintain proper log book of consumption of fresh water. Based on the availability, efforts may be used to use STP treated water instead ground water All stone crushers should have legal source of raw material.

For monitoring and regulatory mechanism:
  1. Crushers should be allowed to operate in the dedicated crusher zones only. The zones should be identified by the State Government in consultation with SPCBs. In case, any standalone crusher is allowed, it should operate only during day hours, 10 am to 6 pm. 
  2. Online ambient air monitoring stations should be installed in crusher zones as per CPCB / SPCB guidelines in the upward and downward directions. 
  3. The crusher shall install CCTV cameras at the entrance and all corners of the crusher covering the entire crusher area with minimum storage of 30 days. 
  4. The crusher should provide a water storage tank with a minimum capacity of 20 kilo litres. 
  5. A minimum area should be mandated by SPCB for establishment of a crusher, which can accommodate crusher green area, storage area and vehicular parking section. 
  6. SPCB should work with stone crusher associations for the construction of metalled road throughout the crusher zones

Point 1: accepted and included. Provision of timing for standalone crushers not included.

Point 2: accepted and included. Manual monitoring also included 

Point 3: not included

Point 4: Included in general measures as “Crusher should provide a water storage tank with adequate capacity”.

Point 5: not included

Point 6: Accepted and included 

  1. Stone crushing unit should obtain Consent to Establish (CTE) and Consent to Operate (CTO) from the concerned SPCB/PCC.
  2. Stone crushing unit shall comply with emission norms prescribed under the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986 and conditions laid down in CTO by concerned SPCB/PCC.
  3. Stone crushing unit should obtain a green belt development plan from concerned Department of the State/UT. 
  4. A District Level Committee to be constituted under chairmanship of District Magistrate/Deputy Commissioner so that surprise inspections for surveillance of stone crushing units located under their jurisdiction can be carried out on regular basis.
  5. Health survey of workers should be carried out by the stone crusher on half-yearly basis.


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