Residents and commuters in the vicinity of cement factories complain of respiratory infections and dust accumulation in their houses.
Bengaluru: Residents of Kumbalgodu who live in close proximity to cement factories bear the brunt of dust emissions and other pollutants. A report by the Centre for Study of Science, Technology and Policy states that cement industries contribute to 12.31 per cent of the total carbon-di-oxide equivalent emissions in Bengaluru.
According to Sri Lakshmi Amma, a resident living close to a cement factory, “The food we eat has mud in it. The water we drink has mud in it. I cannot breathe comfortably. I have six children in this family, and I am compromising their health.”
“All the cement particles go inside our bodies. I have already spent Rs 70,000 to treat my lung infection. When I cough, I see cement particles in my phlegm,” she added.
To prevent dust particles from flying into the air, factory workers drive down the streets with water tankers that spill water everywhere. The residents claim that this is of no use. Many factories have adopted various techniques to prevent dust emissions. However, not all of them follow the protocol prescribed by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board. (KSPCB)
Factory owners claim that they comply with all the regulations imposed by PCB. K. Ramnath, factory in charge of RDC concretes, said “We have huge silos that store the quarry. Each of these silos has a filter system that removes all the dust. Even after this, there are some aggregators that are left behind. For that, we use water sprinklers that automatically detect dust movements and wets the area preventing pollution.”
The pollution control board has mandated the use of sophisticated equipment like electrostatic precipitators that automatically stops the production of cement when emissions occur beyond the permissible rate. The central pollution control board endorses inspections of factories and industries to take place once every three months.
According to Dr R. Ravi, the chief environmental officer of PCB, “The frequency of inspections depends on the pollution overload. We receive a complaint and immediately rush for inspection.”
“We are monitoring industries with respect to consent conditions and its compliance. We issue restraining orders on industries that do not comply. If non-compliance continues, there are provisions under the Air (Prevention of Pollution) Act to fine Rs 5 lakh and imprisonment up to five years,” he added.
Health Experts say that breathing in mortar from cement industries can lead to severe lung infections like tuberculosis and lung cancer. Dr Ashok Bengeri, a physician at S. B. Poly Clinic said, “Continuous in-take of dust and other toxins leads to burning sensations inside the nose affecting the individual’s sense of smell. The dust particles harden the respiratory tract. Without realizing the person starts wheezing due to chest congestion.”