Need to spread awareness among MSMEs for environment protection

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Kolkata, Feb 15 (UNI) There was an urgent need to spread awareness and consciousness about environment-related issues among the MSMEs as they constituted the backbone of the Indian industrial sector, state Minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises(MSMEs) Manabendra Mukherjee today asserted.

Speaking at the second day of the three-day Environment Partnership Summit, 2008, organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in association with the state Environment department and Pollution Control Board, Mr Mukherjee said, ''MSMEs are extremely important for the growth of the Indian economy as they comprise as much as one-third of the country's total industrial production and 34 per cent of its exports. Consequently, there is a need to educate the small and medium entrepreneurs about the adverse impact of their outdated modes of production on the ecology.'' However, he admitted that persuading the small scale industries to introduce state-of-the-art pollution control technology was not an easy task as the entrepreneurs had neither the financial capability nor were they culturally equipped to incorporate environmental concerns in their production activities.

To address this problem, the government had decided to provide 50 per cent subsidy to the industries, which entailed a burden of approximately Rs 15.17 crore on the state exchequer, to enable them to upgrade their production methods to more eco-friendly and viable technology.

''One of the solutions to combat this crisis is to set up industrial clusters in specific pockets of the city so that all the small scale industries in a particular cluster could pool their resources together, which would help them overcome their financial constraints. Working in this very direction, we have successfully established 39 industrial clusters in the state in the fiscal 2007-08 and have set a target of 54 industrial clusters by 2008-09,'' the minister informed.

Besides, 70 air quality monitoring stations, including 45 in Kolkata, have been set up with a view to keeping the escalating pollution levels under control.

''We have successfully persuaded various factories, like ceramic kilns, rolling mills and others, to convert from coal to oil and gas-fired boilers and we have provided them financial assistance and subsidies for the purpose. Under the project, more than 250 such units, located in the Tangra, Tiljala and Topsia areas, have been converted, which has helped to reduce the city's pollution levels substantially,'' he asserted.

He claimed that the biggest enemy of environment was not industries but poverty and advocated the need to work upon not just one or two indicators but adopt a holistic approach to ensure a safe and pollution-free environment for the future generations.

Several other dignitaries, including representatives from the US Environmental Protection Agency, various state Pollution Control Boards, British Deputy High Commissioner Simon Wilson, as well as the heads of numerous corporate houses, such as Coca Cola, Bengal Shrachi, GTZ, attended the summit.

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