March 26, 2013
Tribune News Service
Solan, The State Pollution Control Board has been trying to underplay the issue of hazardous waste (HW) produced by various industrial units by furnishing figures which do not match those of the plant treating the waste.
This information was revealed in an RTI reply procured by Himparivesh, an environmental NGO.
According to the information provided by the board under the RTI Act, there are 17 textile, 518 pharmaceutical and 66 cosmetics and detergent manufacturing units, which produce 7,616.62 MT, 15,889.25 MT and 1,942.156 MT of hazardous waste, respectively. The total waste generated in 2010-11 was 25,448.025 MT. This waste was collected through Shiwalik Solid Waste Management Limited (SSWML) which has been authorised by the board.
The information furnished under the RTI Act to the NGO is not only different from the one furnished by the board but also reveals that less than 50 per cent of the waste is being treated as only a few units avail this facility.
The SSWML said there were 17 textile, 404 pharmaceutical and 32 cosmetic and detergent manufacturing units which produced 4,914.3 MT, 1,896.5 MT and 904.21 MT solid hazardous waste, respectively, in 2010-11.
The SSWML handled only 11,354 MT waste, while 14,093.316 MT never reached the only solid hazardous waste treatment plant in the area. This also revealed that more than 50 percent of this waste was left untreated.
Member secretary of the board Sanjay Sood said the figures of hazardous waste were available on the website of the board, according to which 36,510 MT hazardous waste was emitted annually by various industries, which included 9,574 MT waste being sent to the SSWML and 6,333 MT of slag disposed in low lying areas, brick kilns and partly used in the construction of roads.
The website, however, does not have an updated figures of HW and it was last updated on March 31, 2012.
Balkrishen Sharma, general secretary of the NGO, said he had written a letter to the board asking how the remaining 14,093.316 MT solid hazardous waste was treated if it was not received by the plant.
He said the discrepancy in the number of pharmaceutical, cosmetics and detergent manufacturing units, as furnished by the board and the SSWML, was an issue of concern.
Since HW cannot be stored for more than three months, all the units are supposed to ensure its safe disposal as per the Hazardous Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1989, as this waste is highly toxic in nature and requires scientific handling. The issue, therefore, assumes significance as any laxity in its proper disposal can cause environmental hazard.