17 areas polluting Kolkata: Report

Kolkata: As many as 17 critical areas in and around Kolkata have been identified as "probable hotspots" for polluting the city, says a study.

The report "Living Dangerously" -- by NGO Toxics Link and released on Tuesday -- said many of the identified sites were clusters where environmentally hazardous industrial activities were being undertaken without adequate pollution control mechanisms, right in midst of residential settlements.

Payarabagan, Maniktala, Topsia, Picnic Garden, Tangra-Tiljala-Topsia, Rajabazaar, Mullickbazar, Taratola Industrial Estate, Chowbaga, and Mollar Bheri were among the probable hotspots.

The report said activities ranging from lead acid battery recycling to chrome based leather processing and e-waste dismantling to gold smelting were carried out in these sites.

According to the report, many of these processes are banned within the city limits but continue to flourish.

Lack of monitoring and implementation of law means that these illegal operations are conducted in broad daylight, endangering environment, health of workers and local residents, it said.

Citing an example on the kind of activities in the identified sites, Monalisa Datta, one of the researchers, said: "At Picnic Garden, crude coal furnaces are being used to melt lead plates from discarded batteries. It results in lead ash and fumes that is coating local residents' clothes and lungs all year round."

This industry should not be carried out anywhere within the metropolitan area but is being carried out here, she said.

According to the report, Tangra-Tiljala-Topsia was identified as one of the city's worst polluted areas by the Supreme Court, which ordered the relocation of nearly 550 tanneries more than a decade ago to Bantala.

But this area still has more than 50 "unauthorised tanneries" which release waste water with harmful chemicals into the soil.

"The findings are truly alarming. We hope that it serves as an eye-opener to the authorities," the NGO's associate director Satish Sinha said.