NGT pulls up Vizag Port Trust and PCB for high pollution level in old town

After years of suffocating due to coal dust, the residents of Visakhapatnam’s Old Town area may finally get some respite.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Visakhapatnam Port Trust (VPT) and the Pollution Control Board (PCB) to immediately check air pollution and take steps to curb it, by the end of 2018.

According to a report in the Times of India, the NGT asked the VPT to submit quarterly reports so that they can monitor the pollution, while also warning the latter that it would invoke the ‘polluter pays’ principle, if it didn’t follow the PCB’s norms.

The NGT was responding to the PIL filed by a women’s organisation.

Speaking to TOI, Shireen Rehman, secretary of Chaitanya Sravanthi, said that they filed the PIL in March 2005, adding, “We got 90% of success in the case as the NGT has ordered the port and PCB to bring pollution under permissible parameters to control dust emission and make it as clean as possible.”

For a few years now, areas around the port from Town Hall street to Soldierpet and Kothaveedhi have complained of severe dust pollution, but to no avail.

The problem began with major industries like the Visakhapatnam Port Trust (VPT), HPCL and Visakhapatnam Steel Plant spewing noxious fumes, which led to a layer of iron ore dust hanging in the air.

Things became worse when the VPT expanded and established its General Cargo Berth (GCB), thereby adding coal and sulphur to the air above the area.

According to activists, a lot of pollution was because the trade employed smaller operators and manual workers to handle the coal for decades.

Things have improved slightly for the locals, mainly due to the construction of a large wall around the dusty cargo handling areas and sprinkling the coal with water, to prevent it from flying.

However, the pollution still persists.

Read: Ground Report: Vizag’s old town is suffocating under pollution, but no one cares
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