Permission denied to cement industry in residential area

Dinesh Manhotra

Tribune News Service

Jammu, November 21

Three-year-long people’s battle ultimately yielded result on Thursday as the authorities were forced to deny permission for setting up a pollution generating industry in the residential area of Kathua district.

The decision of the authorities to deny permission to set up such hazardous industry has saved lives of nearly 10,000 persons as such unit would have polluted environment in the adjoining localities.

Since 2016, inhabitants of Hatli Morh and adjoining localities had been agitating against setting up of a pollution generating cement industry (clinker unit) but of no avail as some officials of the Pollution Control Board (PCB) were allegedly hand in glove with an influential industrialist.

On Thursday morning over 200 villagers, including women, covered a distance of nearly 90 km to stage a dharna outside the PCB office at Jammu to protest against allowing such industries in the residential areas.

Higher-ups in the PCB swung into action and denied permission to the industry. “We have denied permission to the cement industry in the residential area,” Chairman, PCB, Suresh Chugh told The Tribune and asserted that permission would never be given to set up such industries in residential areas.

Inhabitants of Hatli Morh had been agitating since 2016 when the proposal was made to set up clinker unit of a cement industry in the residential area. Although the cement industry has been working in the industrial area since 2000, a proposal was made to set up clinker unit of the same industry in the residential area.

“Since 2016 we have been agitating against setting up of the industry as such units have already been declared hazardous for lives by environmentalists,” Rajesh Mehta, a local, who is leading the agitating people, told The Tribune. “In two successive public durbars held in 2016 and 2017, villagers from Hatli Morh and adjoining localities vociferously opposed setting up of the unit in their vicinity,” he recalled and added that due to suggestions from experts the of PCB authorities decided not to give NoC to the unit, but in the beginning of 2019 the authorities allowed the construction of the structure, despite protest by people.

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