WB initiates steps for pollution-free environment

To keep an eye on violation of anti-pollution measures throughout the state, Paribesh Sevak, or environment guards, would be appointed.

Kolkata: The West Bengal government has devised a multi-pronged strategy to curb growing environmental degradation including development of appropriate technology to curb industrial and other pollution and introduction of environment guards.

Environment Minister, Sudarshan Ghosh Dastidar said, a committee has been set up to suggest ways to tackle the pollution demon and development of new technologies to mitigate industrial emission and effluent discharge.

The committee, the minister said, would comprise professionals from diverse fields, representatives of industry, local administration, pollution experts and other stake holders.

The state`s many sponge iron units have long been held responsible for throwing pollutants into air and as such they have been directed as a first step to grow green belts in their surroundings, which would act as absorbers and cushions.

"Officials have undertaken field visits to different sponge iron units to gain first-hand knowledge of the situation and see that appropriate anti-pollution devices had been installed," he said.

A sustained programme of action has been taken by the West Bengal Pollution Control Board against use of banned plastic bags and other items.

In a meeting with officials of all civic bodies early this month, it has been decided unanimously to make the state free from banned plastic items within a month.

Electromagnetic radiation hazards from cell phone towers would be studied by a committee of experts from IIT Kharagpur and IIT Bombay. The committee would submit a report within two weeks to the government, the minister said.

The department has identified 11 places in Kolkata and its outskirts to establish `hot-spots`, where electronic wastes will be collected before being dismantled or recycled.

Apart from budgetary allocations to finance the implementation of the steps, the department intends to earn revenue by allowing external agencies to use facilities in the state laboratories.

"We are planning to let external agencies use our laboratories at the Institute of Environmental Studies and Wetland Management (IESWM) for analysis of samples like sewage, toxins and other health hazard substances," Ghosh Dastidar said.

The department also plans to provide satellite imagery especially of wetlands and water resources to prospective clients and industries on realization of fees, he said.

The department has a plan to transform the IESWM into a Centre of Excellence in the field of environment and ecological research, he said.

Another expert committee, has been asked to study disposal and utilization of municipal solid wastes for energy generation, Ghosh Dastidar said.

The state government has also a plan to bring about a comprehensive legislation in consultation with all major stake holders, since the state has no exclusive act to deal with environmental pollution, the minister said.

The department has also expressed its interest to be involved in the activities of Ganga Action Plan to check water pollution.

Yet another committee has been constituted to look into the bio-safety issues of generally modified crops, he said, adding its recommendations would be reviewed and implemented
in coordination with other government departments.

The WBPCB is taking steps to comply with bio-medical waste (Management and Handling) Rules in 1998 under the Environment (Protection) Act 1986, he said.

To keep an eye on violation of anti-pollution measures throughout the state, `Paribesh Sevak`, or environment guards, would be appointed.

"They will act as the government`s eyes and ears to check and report on air, water and noise pollution," he said, adding social afforestation programmes and awareness campaign would also be stressed.


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