Staff Correspondent

Simple methods to monitor pollution levels evolved

200 units in the BBN area operate without a valid licence

SHIMLA: The surroundings of Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh industrial areas in Himachal could be another Bhopal in the making if the ill-planned toxic units are not discouraged in time; stated a joint group of NGOs, environmentalists and local people. The local communities have no information in this regard, said Shweta Narayan of Community Environmental Monitoring Campaign from Tamil Nadu.

This NGO has evolved several simple methods by which communities affected by pollution can monitor and document the air, dust and water pollution levels in their areas. “People living next to polluted facilities are much more aware about pollution and do not need any educational degrees to identify when pollution levels are excessive. Documenting their common sense experiences in a scientific manner can provide the best evidence of pollution which cannot be refuted by Pollution Control Board and other agencies” says Narayan.

The newly developed industrial areas in Himachal are dominated by Chemical and Pharmaceutical companies and there is little awareness about the actual extent of industrial pollution in this area. The Sarsa River, a tributary of the Sutlej, is choked with effluents and dust and it stinks due to chemical leaks. It has become a nuisance across the area, said Manshi Asher, an activist and researcher. The activists said out of 1000 units that operate in the BBN industrial area, almost 200 do not have a valid licence to operate. This data has been provided by the State Pollution Control Board under the RTI Act. “The poor role of the almost dysfunctional Pollution Control Board in the State has not been adequately highlighted and virtually no independent documentation and assessment of Industrial Pollution exists in the State,” said Ms. Asher.