Centre lifts green moratorium for new industries in Haldia, Asansol

The Centre has lifted a moratorium on environment clearance for new industries in 'highly-polluting' Haldia and Asansol after "pollution controlling norms" were complied with, West Bengal Environment Minister Sudarshan Ghosh Dastidar said here Thursday.

The sectors that fell under the ban include oil and gas exploration, refineries, petrochemicals, power, coal washeries, mining, steel, metals, cement, coke oven, asbestos, leather processing, chemical fertilisers, pesticide, distilleries, paint, pulp and paper, sugar, ports, airports, highways, industrial estates and biotech parks.

The moratorium had been imposed by the Union Environment and Forest ministry when it was headed by Jairam Ramesh and the Left Front was in power in Bengal. The objective behind the ban was to compel 'critically polluted areas' to come up with plans to address the problem. The moratorium on new polluting industries was initially put in place from end-2009 to August 2010, but with a rider that it would be lifted only if the states drew up remedial blueprints.

In Bengal- Haldia, Asansol and Howrah figured in the list.

"We thank the Central government for lifting the moratorium on setting up new industries in Haldia and Asansol. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is keen to attract new investment and industries and the government have announced a slew of fiscal sops in its industrial policy", the minister said.

He claimed that the decision to withdraw the ban was taken after the Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index (CEPI) had improved.

An industrial region measuring above 70 on CEPI is considered highly polluting leading to moratorium on environment clearance. Central Pollution Control Board had imposed a ban on new industrial units in several industrial regions across the country on January 2010 on this ground.

"Moratorium has been lifted after improvement in CEPI measurement which has come down to 67", he said.Ghosh Dastidar said that the government had earlier sent quite a few letters to the Union Environment Ministry in the last several months asking to lift the ban as the pollution controlling norms were complied.

"We earlier contacted with the Centre on this matter. All the norms that was laid down have been complied with", Dastidar said.

He said that he along with the state industry minister Partha Chatterjee had met the Union Minister of Environment and Forest Jayanthi Natarajan on this matter and presented to her the detailed action plan on pollution control.

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