SAIL plants among most polluting industries: Study

KOLKATA, 4 JUNE: The Steel Authority of India (SAIL) plants of the state have ranked among the most polluting industries in a rating ~ Green Rating Project (GRP) ~ done by the New Delhi-based research and advocacy body, Centre for Science and Environment.
The ratings were released in New Delhi today by Mr Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman, Planning Commission, and Mrs Jayanthi Natarajan, Union minister of state for environment and forests.
Most of the SAIL plants, including Durgapur and Burnpur, did not participate voluntarily in the rating exercise. Hence, they were rated on the basis of the available information. SAIL plants in general were found to be “non-transparent and non-compliant with environmental norms”. IISCO came out with the poorest specific water requirement.
Of the three companies rated from the state, Jai Balaji Industries Ltd of Durgapur has emerged at the top with tenth ranking. Its key plus points have been its high blast furnace productivity, good safety performance and relatively better solid waste management practices. However, the plant does not comply with air pollution and wastewater discharge norms, and its energy efficiency is poor, finds the GRP survey.
The state has enough coal and water and most steel plants in the state have a coal-based blast furnace facility. As a result, the air and water pollution from coke ovens and blast furnace processes are high. Also, specific water consumption of the plants in West Bengal is one of the highest among the plants rated by GRP.
The findings of the project reveal that Indian iron and steel sector’s energy consumption of 6.6 GCal/ton is about 50 per cent higher than the global best practice. Process water consumption, excluding power generation, townships and other downstream operations, is a high 3.5 m3/ton ~ over three times the global best practice. The large-scale plants have been found to be highly wasteful on land. They have close to 1,200 hectares (ha) of land per million ton of installed capacity; a well-designed plant does not need more than 200 ha. If all the residual land with steel plants were to be properly utilised, the industry can produce more than 300 million ton steel, not the 75 million ton it is producing today. In fact, the steel industry will not need extra land till 2025.
The report found the sector’s overall environmental performance poor. It is using up enormous quantities of resources (land, water, energy, raw materials), polluting and not complying with even the weak environmental norms that exist today, and getting away with all this because of our lax regulatory and monitoring capabilities.
A total 21 iron and steel sector companies, with over 0.5 million ton of annual capacity, were rated on over 150 parameters ~ from technology to process efficiency and from pollution to occupational health and safety and compliance. The rating of steel sector took two years to complete.

Soma Basu

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