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Cement plants add to greenhouse effect

Even as greenhouse gas emissions from several cement plants in the state are registering an increase, there is no move to discourage setting up of more such plants.

The latest inventory of greenhouse gas emissions compiled by the Department of Environment, Science and Technology clearly states that the GHG emissions on account of cement plants have registered an increase from the earlier 5,170.30 Gigagrams registered in 2009 to 5,170.39 Gigagrams recorded in 2012-2013.

Though the increase was a mere 0.9 Gigagrams, it is supposed to have added immensely to the GHG emissions, confirm scientists in the Department of Environment. This was an alarming revelation as the state was reportedly going to be the cement bowl of the country with several new cement plants in the pipeline.

The state already has four big cement plants which include ACC at Barmana, Ambuja Cements Limited at Darlaghat, JP Cements at Bagha and CCI at Rajban, which have an aggregate capacity of 12.06 million tonnes.

The total cement and clinker production capacity of various cement plants in the state would touch 22.37 million tonnes by 2015 with commissioning of various units in the state.

The state contributes 0.53 per cent of the country’s GHG emissions while the cement industry emits 5.31 million tonnes carbon dioxide, a major component of GHG, and comprises 95.33 per cent carbon dioxide let out by all industries in Himachal. The emissions cover all the large, medium and mini cement grinding plants. Other industrial activities like glass production contribute 892.3 tonnes carbon dioxide. Despite such large-scale GHG, the state government is not keen to discourage pollution-emitting cement plants and five news plants which have failed to set up their plants in the stipulated period and were given an extension some months ago to set up their plants.

Even though the state government has received from the World Bank a soft loan of Rs 550 crore for pursuing use of green and clean technologies, it has not helped offset the impact of industrial pollution.

Dr SS Negi, Director, Department of Environment, when quizzed, said they were discouraging polluting industries and would ensure that modern technologies are put to use in the new cement plants whenever they approach the department for seeking environmental clearances.

With air pollution being a cause of constant concern in the existing cement plants located in the Darlaghat and Nalagarh areas, how much modern technologies help offset the impact of pollution remains to be seen.

The Tribune (29-03-2014)