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Engineer's focus: Health hazards by cement plants

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  4 Sep 2016 12:00 AM GMT

By our Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Sept 3: Consultant engineer JN Khataniar has said that the focus should be the health hazards which cement manufacturing plants create, not the benefits they offer.

Talking to newsmen on ‘Environmental Impacts and Health Risk Factors from Cement Manufacturing Plants’ in the city today, Khataniar enumerated some points: “The cement industries are a major source of pollution. The industries have already been categorized as highly polluting industries by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

“Cement plants are a significant source of emission of sulfur dioxide (S02), nitrogen dioxide (N02) and carbon monoxide (CO), along with cement dust in the form of visible clouds which ultimately settle on the surroundings as a result, the whole ecosystem around the cement factory is subjected to extraordiry stress, and neglect of which causes pollution and ultimately affects human health and environment.

“As per the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the cement sector is the third largest industrial source of pollution, emitting more than 5,00,000 tonnes a year sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide.”

According to Khataniar, an extensive study was being carried out on the above subject by the Department of Environmental Science and Biotechnology University of Kashmir J & K which was published in African Jourl of Environmental Science and Technology in December, 2013. “One of the selected sites was a cement polluted area of Khrew and another non-polluted area of Burzahama, both about 20 km from Srigar city. It was studied extensively for the health risk factors on the people residing 2-3 km radius of the cement emission zones,” the engineer said, and added: “The relative occurrence of 2l diseases with clinical features in the resident of cement-polluted and control areas have been recorded.”

According to Khataniar, a number of cement manufacturing factories are in operation or under process of approval or in construction stages in many densely populated locations spreading all over Assam. “Two new plants are under construction, one at Titabor near Jorhat and the other at Topatoli Gaon under Sopur Revenue Circle in East Kamrup district, in spite of strong objection by the people living in those localities,” he said, and added: “We have three cement manufacturing plants in the densely populated areas of North Guwahati having many prestigious infrastructures, which has been under GMDA’s jurisdiction since July 2009 as per the Master Plan-2025. From the above facts, the existence of one highly visible mega cement plant under TOPCEM brands located near lIT Guwahati, along with three nearby super speciality healthcare infrastructures like GNRC, rayan Super Speciality Hospital and Tularam Bafa Civil Hospital is a matter of serious concern for health risk factors.”

Khataniar said: “Recently, Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (PMSSY Division), through a letter to the Assam Chief Secretary has given clearance for the setting up of prestigious Life Line Infrastructure for AIIMS at ‘Jalah’ near Changsari in North Guwahati which falls under an eco-sensitive zone as indicated in Master P1an2025, on the plea that this site is about 7 km from the nearest Government district hospital (Tularam Bafa Civil Hospital), 8 km from rayan Supper Specialist Hospital and 4 km from GNRC.”

According to the engineer, probably, Assam State Pollution Control Board (ASPCB) is not aware of facts and truths related with health hazards and environmental degradation from such dangerous cement industries. “It is under doubt if the ASPCB’s rules and regulations are in force or not,” he said.

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