Revoke the licenses of industries operating in violation of norms : Harsh

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Aggrieved over the disregard for norms and breach of SC and NGT directives by the mushroom growth of pollution creating units and pesticide industries in Jammu region which have caused huge ecological imbalance besides health hazards and loss of human lives, Harsh Dev Singh, Chairman JKNPP and former Minister sought personal indulgence of the Governor to stem the rot in the interest of public health and hygiene.

Briefing media persons, Singh accused the defiant industrialists of enriching their coffers at the cost of lives of common people in collusion with the corrupt functionaries in the government.

Coming down heavily on the pollution creating industries particularly pesticides, chemical, cements besides others, Harsh sought a review of the licenses granted to them in the light of recommendations made by Supreme Court and the National Green Tribunal. He said that during his several visits to villages in Kathua, Udhampur, Samba, Vijaypur and Bari Brahmana earlier, he was apprised by locals that several pesticides namely Carbofuran, Chlorpyrifos, Phorate, Atazine, Monocrotophos, Newsicle, Furadan, Fusilaxole, Deltamethsin, Curator, etc. which were declared as extremely hazardous by WHO were being produced without any check what so ever.

He regretted that toxic pesticides units continue to be allowed to operate in J&K especially Jammu region despite their highly hazardous effects including nausea, nervous and respiratory, paralysis, reproduction problems, environmental toxicity, chest discomforts, skin ailments, cancer etc. He said that not only were they being allowed to operate with impunity but were granted several concessions by the State Government including interest subsidy, CIS, tax exemptions, etc. He said that not a single officer of the health, agriculture or pollution control had ever taken any action against any such unit for violation of Food Safety Act, Insecticides Act or under various environmental laws.

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Anguished over the huge environmental and ecological degradation besides serious health hazards caused by nauseating growth of un-authorized brick-kilns, hot mix plants and illegal stone crushers operational in and around Jammu, Harsh further accused the government departments of issuing NOCs and allowing immunity to influential offenders including ex-Ministers, sitting MPs and legislators besides other affluent people. He said that there were hundreds of brick-kilns and stone crushes operating in the State without fulfilling the pre-requisites laid down by the GOI, Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Mines in pursuance of the Supreme Court directions. He pointed out that several units had been installed in prohibited areas and non specified locations by powerful mafia in league with corrupt government functionaries.

Seeking the immediate disbanding of such un-authorized Brick kilns and stone crushers, Harsh regretted that State Pollution Control Board (SPCB), the other concerned Departments including geology and Mining, Forests, I&FC and the erstwhile State Government had failed to book the delinquents due to political clout enjoyed by them and money power wielded by them.

Referring to the reply sought through an RTI filed by him, he made a startling revelation that during the years from 2015 to 2018, the Department of Forests blatantly issued NoCs to operate in favour of 985 such units which had never happened before in the last 50 years.

Drawing the attention of Governor towards the polluting pesticide plants, eco-disturbing stone crushers installed on river beds or in the vicinity of schools, habitations, forests, hospitals etc in violation of rules, he demanded that they should be immediately disbanded with action under law against the violators with a beginning to be made by dismantling such illegal units operated by the corrupt politicians and industrialists.

He also urged upon the State Vigilance Organization to intervene so as to rescue the people from health hazards caused by such illegal units and to further stop the illegal extraction of minerals including stones, bajri, sand and boulders by such powerful mafia and reckless politicians in blatant circumvention of prescribed norms.

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