SRINAGAR: The high court asked the state government on Monday to reply within a week to a Public Interest Litigation requesting the court to direct the government to take steps to prevent, control and abate pollution by cement factories in Wuyan and Khrew areas of Pampore.
A division bench of Chief Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar and Justice Tashi Rabstan directed the government through chief secretary and commissioner secretary forest to file reply to the PIL within a week.
The court also issued the notice to divisional commissioner Kashmir, deputy commissioner Pulwama, chairman of State Pollution Control Board, Directors of floriculture, agriculture and horticulture as well as proprietors of six cement factories at Khrew.
The PIL, filed by seven residents of Khrew, has raised issues of pollution by cement plants in their locality and has alleged failure of the authorities in checking hazardous pollutants emanating from the factories.
“Entire Khrew is under a huge burden of industrial pollution and the activities undertaken by manufacturing of cement is querying of lime stone and the burning of fuel and one chemical compound is dangerous,” the petitioners said in the PIL filed by them through advocate Mohammad Ashraf Wani.
“The carrying capacity of the air of SPM (Suspended particulate matter) has crossed the threshold point, resulting in great threat to the lives of people including flora and fauna,” they said, adding, that the pollutants from the cement plants are spreading as slow poison in the area.
“The people have raised voice against the pollution but to no avail. The state government has reportedly given a clean chit to commissioning of another cement plant having 600 MTs capacity namely Mehboob Cement Project,” they said and demanded government to stop the new plant from commissioning it.
They said more cement plants will destroy the economy of these areas, which are famous for saffron cultivation, especially when the government is spending huge money under ‘Saffron Mission’ to encourage saffron cultivation. The petitioners have also pulled up environment ministry for “showing no concern” and ignoring the fact that Dachigam National Park is in the catchment area of the industrial units.
The petitioners also sought court directions to the state to conduct a detailed survey or environmental impact assessment (EIA) besides compensation under the principles of ‘Polluters Pay Principle’ and ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ to be utilised for repairing the loss caused to the environment. They also asked court to direct the chief medical officer concerned to conduct a survey on the diseases caused by the pollutants among the local residents.