Pollution from factory affecting residents in Lekhi

[Bengia Ajum]

LEKHI, 14 Sep: M/s Shree Salasar Industries in Lekhi village continues to cause trouble for the residents due to the alleged pollution caused by its factory.

The locals also allege that, despite several complaints, the state government has failed to take any concrete step against the company. The factory, which is located in the heart of Lekhi village, has often been in the news because of controversies.

Besides large human settlements, there are several commercial establishments, truck and bus terminals, and a railway station on the other side of the Pachin river. In the past, several groups demanded shifting of the factory from Lekhi to some other place. The people of Lekhi and nearby areas allege that, since the establishment of the factory, it has been polluting the environment and causing serious health hazards.

“After the establishment of this factory, the people living nearby have experienced health issues. Especially the young children and older generation are suffering a lot. We have made several appeals to the state government to look into this issue but nothing has changed,” said a resident of Lekhi.

Shree Salasar Industries is a Ferro Alloy industry with a capacity of 8,800 mta. The industry was established in 2003 and the licence is valid up to 14 June, 2025. Following several complaints, a team of the Arunachal Pradesh State Pollution Control Board (APSPCB) inspected the factory on 4 September, 2020, and a show cause notice was issued on 7 September, 2020 to the factory.

The industry was closed by the APSPCB in September 2020, owing to its pollution control devices not functioning. It remained closed for around six months. An inspection team was invited from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Shillong, in November 2020 to check the status and stack monitor air samples.

Based on the laboratory report of the CPCB and compliance with all conditions given by the CPCB, a consent order for the functioning of the factory was given on 14 July, 2021.

“Third-party monitoring has also been conducted to check the pollution status of the emission. SO2, NO2, PM 10, and PM 2.5 are reported to be within the norms for stack and ambient quality,” said an official of APSPCB.

Regarding the demand for shifting the factory from Lekhi to some other place, he said that the state government will have to take a decision in this regard. “Our duty is only to check pollution. We regularly conduct checks by ourselves as well as by outsourcing to expert firms. For shifting of the factory, the state government will have to take a policy decision, and that is beyond our hands,” he said.

M/s Shree Salasar, Lekhi, is an orange category industry as per Schedule 8 of the Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) & (Amendment) Rules, 2020. Further, there are two court cases against the industry, filed by the residents of Lekhi village.