The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) has turned a blind eye to an errant brick kiln in Mohammedwadi. The board has not done anything against the kiln for the past 18 months, even though it is empowered to do so.
Quoting section 31A of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has affirmed that the State Pollution Control Board (in this case the MPCB) has the authority to enforce the provisions of the Act, including closure of polluting industries.
Responding to a Right to Information (RTI) query filed by Capt Deepak Sethi, resident of the area and a member of the Nyati County Mohalla Committee (NCMC), the CPCB in its letter dated October 12, 2010, states that the MPCB is empowered to take action, including closure in special cases.
This letter is in contradiction to the stand maintained by the MPCB for the past 18 months, wherein it has been passing the buck by not taking action against the polluting industry, be it closing it or relocating the kiln.
The MPCB, in a letter in April 2009 had admitted that the kiln, Ghule Patil Vit Karkhana in Mohammedwadi, in the vicinity of several housing societies and the Delhi Public School, is a polluting industry.
“Since then the MPCB has been passing the buck even when, as per the Air Pollution Act, it is fully empowered to take action against the brick kiln since it is not following air pollution norms,” said Sethi.
In mid-October, when this correspondent and Sethi met NH Shivangi, sub-regional officer of MPCB, he had taken pains to explain that action on closure of the kiln lay with the PMC (as the kiln does not have a valid licence to operate) and the issue of relocation lay with the district collector.
He highlighted that the Air Act could be enforced by MPCB only if they had issued a licence to the kiln and the industry was not following the prescribed norms.
“The MPCB has permission to close only those industries that have been given permission by us to function. We have not given permission to this kiln, so we cannot close it,” he said after speaking with the regional officer, PK Mirashe, over the phone.
“With the CPCB’s letter, it is clear that the MPCB officials have been resisting action, even though they are empowered to shut it down and stop the pollution,” said Sethi.
“I have filed an RTI application with the MPCB head office in Mumbai asking them what action they will take after the CPCB’s direction,” said Sethi.