The highly polluted eastern front of the city faces yet another threat as the Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers Ltd (RCF) has decided to double the capacity of its plant at Sion-Chembur (Trombay).
Pollution surveys conducted by the BMC have also listed Chembur and its adjoining areas as highly polluted. Representation pic
Air pollution in the area is already higher than other parts of the city and its residents face acute respiratory problems. Union Minister of State, Chemical and Fertilizers, Hansraj Ahir announced in the city on Monday that the capacity of the Chembur plant would be doubled very soon.
When mid-day asked him whether such an expansion would not pose a serious health hazard given the already high pollution levels in the city, the unfazed minister said the expansion needed no further permission from the union ministry of environment. “The existing and running plants do not need any permission,” he said.
RCF’s Chembur plant produces urea and other chemical fertilizers, because of which the stench of ammonia lingers in the air perennially. Pollution surveys conducted by the BMC have also listed Chembur and its adjoining areas as highly polluted.
When Ahir was told that the citizen groups have opposed several plants, including Tata Power’s plan to convert its oil-run thermal electricity unit to a coal-fired one, he said that the government would hear public sentiments about the RCF expansion plan.
The RCF website says the public sector unit has carried out a massive drive for tree plantation under the ‘Chembur Green’ Project. It says real-time emission levels are displayed through an illuminated board placed at the entrance of the factory for public viewing and complete transparency is maintained by the company in dissemination of environment-related information. Both the manufacturing units are accredited with ISO 9000 for quality and OHSAS 18000 for Occupational Health and Safety, it adds.
Ahir said the RCF has plans to use the bio (vegetable/grain) waste generated at Vashi APMC for making bio fertilizer at the Chembur facility. However, he said the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation wanted to use the waste for generating power at a proposed bio-energy project. The minister said he would meet CM Devendra Fadnavis in this regard.
No real estate development
Ahir said the RCF land in Chembur would not be opened up for real estate development even though the company had been working on a plan to convert a portion of the 300 acres of prime land it uses for employee residences into a commercial development of residential properties. The buildings are due for redevelopment. This land is part of about 800 acres in possession of RCF.