Residents’ 16-Year Battle Finally Comes To An End As Civic Body Takes A Hammer To Chimneys Spewing Toxic Gases From Illegal Jewellery-Making Units
For 16 years, Kalbadevi residents choked on the toxic fumes from the local gold jewellery-making units, while the authorities ignored their pleas for help. But after the Chief Minister ordered the closure of these units last week, the BMC has finally woken from its slumber. The civic body will now remove the chimneys from all illegal units spewing deadly gases, and will also cancel their licences.
According to officials, there are over 2,000 gold polishing and smelting units operating illegally in Kalbadevi. According to the residents, when they showed aerial pictures of Kalbadevi to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, even he was shocked to see the number of chimneys sticking out of the rooftops. The residents also showed him research papers from KEM Hospital that showed how the gold smithy units were leading to respiratory illnesses among locals.
mid-day had earlier reported that 55 per cent of people living near these units were suffering from asthma, bronchitis and other ailments. Local residents also pointed out that beside posing health risks, these gold units were also a fire trap. Unskilled labourers use highly combustible chemicals and illegally stored LPG cylinders to polish the precious metal. Following his meeting with the locals, the CM issued an order for immediate action against the gold units.
The BMC has a two-pronged plan of action. First, the civic body will inspect all gold units in the area to see if they are illegally smelting or polishing gold. It shouldn’t be too hard to find them — the chimneys and smoke are a dead giveaway. J S Gheghadmal, assistant municipal commissioner of C-ward, said the BMC has set a deadline of three months to dismantle all chimneys at the gold units to ensure no more deadly gases are emitted into the air.
The next step is to refuse renewal of licence to the errant workshops. “As they are commercial units, we give them licences, which they have to renew every six months. We will not renew the licences of these polluting units,” said Gheghadmal.
However, Harkishan Goradia, from the Bhuleshwar Residents Association, who spearheaded the campaign, said this was not the first time the civic body had promised to take action. “But nothing has happened so far,” he added. BMC officials claim that they have been taking continuous action against illegal workshops.
According to their data, in the past year, they have inspected 2,032 units and removed 351 chimneys and 131 furnaces. They also claim to have removed 290 exhaust fans and filed 744 prosecution cases against the culprits. But residents remain unconvinced. “Removal of chimneys is an eyewash. They remove only a part of the chimney, which the unit owners can easily attach again and continue their business,” said Goradia, adding that the officials should remove the entire chimney structure.
No. of years residents have been fighting for closure of jewellery workshops
Approx number of gold workshops
Years residents have been fighting for closure
Months in which chimneys will be removed
Source : Mid Day