Pollution in Himachal’s BBN industrial hub reaching critical levels, petition asks HP PCB to act
SHIMLA- Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh (BBN) in Nalagarh tehsil of Solan District, Himachal Pradesh, witnessed rapid industrialization since 2003 when the Central Government announced an industrial subsidy package for the state. Since then, close to 3000 units have come up in the area. Most of them are highly polluting in nature, like pharmaceuticals, chemicals, plastics, dying units and boilers. Heavy extraction of ground water, ground water pollution, toxicity in air, fly ash and hazardous waste dumping have been the key problems that have arisen in a stretch of almost 35 kms with 21 Panchayats and 115 villages being affected.
In an effort to highlight the problem, the environmental action group Himdhara Collective, on World Environment Day 2017, has filed an online petition titled “Himachal has dirty air too! Himachal Pollution Control Board Install Air Quality Monitoring Stations to Monitor all Air Pollution parameters!”. The petition focuses specially on the air pollution Baddi Barotiwala Nalagarh Industrial Area.
Air pollution is the biggest, most urgent, crisis facing this area. The BBN region nearly made it to the Central Pollution Control Board’s list of “critically polluted” areas list in 2009. Air samples have shown the presence of heavy metals like mercury, lead, manganese, nickel and cadmium in the air, which could be fatal for the local population,
said the petition.
It further added,
Major health problems that have been reported in the area include chronic respiratory and skin problems. Dust due to industrial units and commercial vehicular emissions as well as poor conditions of the road have become a severe health hazard.
The petitioner has asked Kuldeep Singh Pathania, Chaiperson of the Himachal Pradesh Pollution Control Board, to urgently formulate an ‘air pollution monitoring and control action plan’ for the BBN Industrial Area. It includes the setting up of air pollution control and monitoring devices to measure the Air Quality Index as per the Central Pollution Control Board guidelines, and to make Air Quality Data for industrial towns of H.P. publicly available on the Pollution Control Board website.
There is an urgent need for citizen’s action in this direction. It is essential that air quality monitoring devices are set up and air quality data is made public so that violations can be accounted for
, said Himdhara Collective.
As per reports the level of ambient particulate matter (APM) has exceeded the National Air Quality Standards consecutively from 2011 to 2015 in the state’s industrial hub BBN. Despite regular directions from the CPCB to formulate a clear action plan to monitor and control the air pollution in the region, HPPCB has made no headway in this direction.