Thursday, December 24, 2009

NCR among top most polluted zone in India

Beijing had to take some harsh steps to reduce pollution ahead of last year’s Olympic Games in the city. As the countdown for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi begins, here’s some bad news. Delhi and its surroundings have some of the worst polluting zones in the country, according to a list of India’s severely polluted industrial clusters released by the environment ministry on Thursday.

Ghaziabad takes the third rank in the list and Bhiwadi is No 6. The Najafgarh drain basin, which includes Okhla, Naraina, Anand Parvat and Wazirpur, comes in as the 11th worst. Noida (12) and Faridabad (18) are not too far behind.

The report, an environmental assessment of industrial clusters, says more than 85% of the industrial zones in India — 75 out of 88 — are severely polluted. The worst performers are from Gujarat — Ankleshwar and Vapi — long known to have pollution management issues.

Said Jairam Ramesh, Union minister of environment and forests, while releasing the report, ‘‘Expansion and new industries should be put on hold in the industrial zones that are critical (43 out of the 88) till pollution control actions are put in place. Many of these areas have reached their limits and the situation is not under control at the moment.’’

TOXIC TURF Pollution in 10 areas at alarming level

The Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi along with the Central Pollution Control Board and the state pollution control boards has prepared a report of India’s severely polluted industrial clusters. It is the first such report prepared by the government using an index that measured land, air and water pollution emerging from these manufacturing hot zones.

Ten out of the 88 areas surveyed have reached alarming levels, Union environment minister Jairam Ramesh said, adding that he would want the CPCB and the state pollution control boards to come up with action plans for cleaning up the 43 worst performers.

He said he would approach the finance ministry to make provisions in the next Budget to start a clean-up fund for these zones.

The action plans, the union minister announced, would be drawn up with financial and organizational support from the Centre.

Ramesh pointed out that the assessment the first step in a more scientific evaluation of the problem which will be from here on conducted biennially had not taken the public health impact into account.

For this, the environment ministry has separately commissioned the Public Health Foundation of India to conduct a study connecting the pollution loads to public health dangers.