Nepal | September 30, 2020

Ghorahi locals warn of agitation against cement factory pollution

Rastriya samachar samiti
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The factory operates 24 hours and the noise and pollution level is very high at night

Ghorahi, February 5

People of Ghorahi had been time and again urging the authorities concerned to check the air and sound pollution caused by the Ghorahi Cement Industry located in Ghorahi Municipality-4.

But their concern have so far fallen on deaf ears and the locals are now starting a protest movement against the pollution caused by the dust, smoke and sound from the factory.

Troubled by the heavy dust, smoke and sound coming from the factory, the locals have launched an agitation by forming a Factory-affected Environment Protection and Concerned Committee. The committee has relentlessly calling for controlling pollution caused by the factory in their area for the last six years.

Dil Bahadur Gharti, a resident of Laxmipur, Ghorahi-4, lamented that the situation was such that it had become difficult to grow crops and vegetables due to the heavy dust cover in the area. “We cannot even consume the vegetables we grow in the kitchen garden. There is thick layer of dust on the vegetables and leaves. We used to grow a lot of fruits and vegetables in our village before, but these days fruits like litchi, lemon, mango and others wilt away and the fruits start dropping,’ he said, explaining the adverse situation caused by the heavy dust pollution.

Govinda Acharya, member of the committee whose house is close to the factory, said they could not even sleep at night due to the noise from the factory. “The factory operates 24 hours and the noise and dust pollution level is high at night,” he added.

“We have requested the factory management to stop the noise for at least six hours at night. But they have been neglecting our concerns. It is difficult to even breathe due to the dust and smoke pollution.

Ghorahi Cement Industries Pvt Ltd has, however, insisted that the factory has conformed with the standards set by the government. The cement factory that had produced 1,200 metric tonnes of cement every day during its establishment period has now started producing 2,000 metric tonnes of cement every day.  The factory has now been producing and sending its products to the market in the name of ‘Sagarmatha Cement’.

Chairperson of Dandagaun Secondary School Management Committee, Tanka Sunar, said that different problems like body itching, cold and cough had
become common among students after establishment of the factory. The school is located near the factory.

Public Administration Chief of the cement factory, Bikas Sharma, mentioned that the factory was abiding by the criteria determined by the government. Sharma said the factory has not only been producing cement,but also providing employment to locals as per their skill and capacity. He also said efforts were being made to control environment pollution by planting saplings.

He said, “We have not been carrying out any activities that have negative impacts on anyone. A study can be carried out by bringing experts from the centre if you feel there is some problem regarding operation of the factory. The factory is in operation in the right way.”

The industry’s public administration chief Sharma said the target to increase production capacity of the industry to 4,000 metric tonnes daily and work has begun for the same after acquiring  permission from the government.

Ghorahi sub-metropolis Mayor Narulal Chaudhary said practical aspects should be taken into account while operating business even though all the legal procedures have been carried out.

He was of the view that it was necessary to take the locals’ concerns seriously. According to him, none desired to see the closure of the industry, but the voices were for making it citizen-friendly. It is essential to be sensitive towards the minimisation of negative consequences of the industry.

Chief District Officer Govinda Prasad Rijal said the factory had been instructed to find measures for the safe release and management of smoke, dust and sound pollution bearing in mind the people’s complaints.

The factory claims that several efforts are being made to minimise environmental impacts and pollution-control equipment has been installed.

A version of this article appears in print on February 06, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.

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