65 cities exceed pollution levels, 24 in danger level

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Kolkata, Feb 15: As many as 65 urban areas in the country have been generally exceeding the ambient air quality standards, while 24 cities have been identified as critically polluted, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) Member Secretary Dr B Sengupta said.

Speaking at the inauguration of a three-day Environment Partnership Summit, 2008, here yesterday, Dr Sengupta said, ''We have identified 17 categories of highly polluting industries, among the small scale industries in the country, including stone crushers, re-rolling mills, electroplating industries, brick kilns and foundries, where emission and effluent standards are being enforced.'' He revealed that 1,20,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste is generated every day, only 70 per cent of which is collected systematically and five pre cent treated and disposed of properly.

''Presently, 8.14 million tonnes of hazardous waste is generated from about 29,716 industries while there are only 21 Transport, Storage and Disposal Facility (TSDF) stations in the country, whereas almost 50 such stations are required,'' Dr Sengupta added.

He also disclosed the alarming data that ash generation from coal-based power stations is presently about 112 million tonnes per annum and that 33,000 million litres of sewage is produced per day out of which only 7,000 million litres is treated. The rest of the harmful effluents are discharged untreated into the water bodies and land, causing surface and ground water pollution.

''To combat this critical scenario, we are taking up steps to ensure that the sewage water is collected and treated in phased manner after considering the pollution status of the recipient water bodies. We will also be laying more emphasis on using treated water for irrigation and other purposes,'' he informed.

Besides, the Corporate Responsibility for Environmental Protection (CREP) has been drawn and implemented through eight task forces in this direction.

West Bengal Environment department Principal Secretary M L Meena, who was also present on the occasion, said, ''Private buses and autorickshaws are a major component of the vehicular pollution being created in the metropolitan cities. Therefore, the state government is taking up steps to introduce LPG among the autorickshaws to reduce the emission of harmful gases like carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide.'' About 5,000 autorickshaws will be converted to the LPG format this year, for which the state government will provide 50 per cent subsidy, he said, adding that a target of 10,000 vehicles had been set for the next year, besides making the Euro III and Bharat Stage III norms mandatory.


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