New Delhi: West Bengal has the highest number of red category industries causing high pollution, followed by Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, while 43 industrial clusters have been identified as "critically polluted", the Lok Sabha was informed on Monday.
Environment and Forest Minister Jayanthi Natarajan said during Question Hour that the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and IIT-Delhi had conducted a survey based on Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index (CEPI) for assessment of pollution load of industrial areas.
"The survey was conducted in 88 major industrial clusters in the country. Out of these, 43 industrial clusters have been identified as critically polluted," she said.
The ministry maintained that three categories - red, orange and green - have been established to measure the pollution caused by industries.
Natarajan said West Bengal has 12,810 red category industries, followed by Maharashtra with 12,184 and Tamil Nadu 11,650.
She maintained that before the UPA came to power no proper scientific method was adopted by the government to measure pollution caused by industries. "It is completely wrong to say that the Centre is not taking any action," she said.
To a question, Natarajan said in Bihar a moratorium on industries has been put only in the East Singhbhum district of the state on grounds of excess pollution.
Natarajan maintained that her ministry constantly monitors industries and industrial clusters and moratorium is lifted when conditions are met.
To a question on polluting industries in Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu, she said moratorium has been lifted when levels have fallen. However, in Manali industrial cluster of Chennai, the moratorium continues as reduction in pollution levels is not satisfactory.
Yashwant Sinha (BJP) asked if any step was being taken to deal with coal pollution in the coal belt of Jharkhand.
He said Jharkhand is the only state where the number of red category industries are much higher than orange and green industries. He also expressed concern over pollution affecting the Damodar river and insisted that the river is on the verge of extinction.
Natarajan assured the House that a team would be sent to the area to look into the matter and suggest appropriate action. She also said efforts would be made to transport only washed coal when the destination is more than 500 km. She acknowledged that pollution of Damodar is an on-going problem and action is needed.
The minister faced some embarrassment while replying to another question when she mistook the constituency of Annu Tandon (Cong) to be Kanpur when she represents Unnao.
Maintaining that both Kanpur and Unnao face similar pollution issues due to leather tanning and slaughter houses, Natarajan said cryogenic procedure was used in leather tanning but it was given up when it ran into problems.
Tapas Pal (TMC) demanded action to deal with pollution caused by sponge iron treatment in Purulia area of West Bengal.