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Toxic Chemical industries: Disaster in the making
7/22/2019 11:21:31 PM
Bhushan Parimoo

No one, perhaps, has forgotten the Bhopal, Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters that claimed thousands of lives and affected a generation of survivors with crippling disabilities and risk of genetic mutations that are likely to affect their progeny. The December 2, 1984 Bhopal disaster is still fresh in our memory and tormenting us all the time. Conservative estimates inform us that it claimed as many as 25,000 lives and another 100,000 people, suffered illnesses such as cancer and blindness. Even after 30 years babies are being born with 'twisted limbs, brain damage and other skeletal disorders. Thousands of livestock died within two weeks, those survived died of slow death, countless Fauna in wild was also victim.
The disaster, however ought to have taught us, as one may tend to believe, about the safety concerns in such enterprises. And yet there are those who throw wind to caution. To cite one typical example of such apathy are the Government authorities in Jammu & Kashmir who have given clearance to operate highly toxic chemical industries in Jammu that do not have the necessary and requisite safety mechanism in place to deal with, in case of, a mishap. These chemical bombs licensed by the government of Jammu and Kashmir are planted at number of places in Jammu Province. With no safety measures in place, these units are a source of toxic spillage to poison all living entities including vegetation and adjoining water bodies. And yet the government has permitted about 37 mini Bhopal type pesticide bombs to establish and function at Kathua (6), Samba (29), Baribrahmana (10), Udhampur (5) while consciously ignoring the dreadful consequence. At present 33 units are in operation, These 'bombs' are tickling since - 1987, first unit was established on March 1987 M/ Sawarsti Agro Cheminals ( India) , last to crop up in 2016, M/S Beast CROP Science IID Centre, Govindsagar Kathua. Despite the authorities concerned , in particular the State Pollution Control Board, which has a final say in the interest of the welfare of the society even after being well aware of its disastrous impact have never raised the issue. Instead they have encouraged the same on the consideration that Government apparatus has been oiled liberally to move smooth noiseless activities in favour of pesticide industry. Every norm and precaution has been thrown to wind even as the danger of these toxic bomb is hanging constantly over our heads. It is prescribed in the statutes that while according sanction to establish a chemical factory anywhere, its manufacturing poisonous waste, be it that of the pesticide unit or a pharmaceutical unit, the sludge from Effluent Treatment Plant and Incinerators are in place for safe and scientific disposal. As such it is mandatory to provide hazard waste disposal treatment facility before any pesticide or pharmaceutical plants go into production. As against this norm, no such facility has been created in any Jammu based pesticide factory, though these hazardous units are in production since 2003.As per the laid down norms every 90 days ,four time in a year, hazard material collected has to be disposed of to a safe and secured place earmarked by the authorities .However, it is quite intriguing to understand that when state has no such safe facility for poisonous waste disposal from such units in Jammu, then where it is disposed of becomes a pertinent question that begs for an answer. Should the disposal be made outside the state, even then it is to be transported in the prescribed manner and disposed of as per laid norms No such exercise has been witnessed on inquest. Where it is disposed and when, the authorities are non-responsive. Everything is eyewash in connivance with the Pollution Control Board authorities. So much so that the pesticide factories are allotted places for production, adjacent to pharmaceuticals manufacturing units and sometimes abutting places with Flour mills or cement factories. In these circumstances these units become highly polluting sources in a coterminous manner. Article 21 of the Indian constitution enshrines that every State is deemed to be a welfare state bound by the constitution from which the states derive the authority to govern; the provisions further enshrine to ensure purity of the environment and the right of the citizen for a healthy environment. As such it is statuary binding on the part of the executive agencies in the state to ensure the same in letter and spirit and without any lapse While in other states in the country ,where the factories manufacturing pesticide in contravention to standard norms have been forced shut down the production by cancelling their licenses, no such courage has been shown by authorities concerned in Jammu & Kashmir .Instead they allow these Pesticide Factories continue as sources of the biggest hazard, not only to human existence but also to the existence of all the gifts that nature has so kindly bestowed on mankind. Even it may be conceded that commoner may not be aware about such hazards, but those who know the dangers these chemical bomb pose, adopt unconcerned posture. But in no case they can be absolved of their responsibilities as responsible citizens and designated authorities to discharge their official obligations. It needs no reminder to be informed that unless immediate and urgent steps are taken to have corrective measures by removing these bombs away from the state, a very bleak and terrible future awaits us, Art 51 -A (g)casts duty on the citizens of India to protect and improve the natural environ including forests ,lakes ,rivers and wildlife, and to have compassion for living creatures While world-over concern has been gaining moment for protection of environmental pollution which include water, air, land and soil, forests, lakes ,rivers ,sea and wildlife and other living creatures and inter-relationship which exists amongst and in between these elements vis-à-vis human beings and other living creatures, plants, forests, property and micro-organism, the authorities of the State of Jammu and Kashmir have not only put human existence of Jammu province on stake but also to the existence of all the gifts that nature has so kindly bestowed upon its people.
Manufacturing of Pesticides and its handling falls under hazardous toxic chemicals category which warrants strict safeguard as per prescribed procedure to be adopted right from manufacturing, processing, and treatment. Which is not being adhered to, as per statutory law, a mandatory one that Pesticide Units should have common Transport Storage & Disposal facilities (CTSDF) unit, which is essential before issuance of licence to operate, so the Hazardous end waste is disposed off there. Despite 33 years gone by since first unit was established in 1987 at Birpur industrial Complex Jammu not a single safe disposal unit, for hazardous waste has been established in any Industrial units where these Factories operate, Sate Pollution Control agency do admit that hazardous Waste is a delicate subject where very caution is required to ensure its safe transport and disposal. At the same time add that it the job of the industry Department to have it established, but fumble with the words then why permission is granted to operate such units. It speaks volume where lies the heart of the authorities. It is time that the Governor intervenes and makes authorities concerned in the state wake up to the alarm caused by such chemical bombs in Jammu Province and thereby avoids the otherwise imminent catastrophe. To say the least, Jammu Province is slumbering on ticking chemical bombs that need to be defused forthwith without any further delay. Or else Jammu too, unfortunately, may join the ill-fated Bhopal-Chernobyl-Fukushima trio. Pertinent question is who will be held responsible what punishment shall be given under law to wilful criminal inhuman act and who will compensated the damages caused to environ incl livings The silver lining, however is that Jammu can be saved from the impending disaster, if only the authorities act in time before it is too late.
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