There finally is hope for those breathing polluted air in mining areas. The Union ministry of environment and forest (MOEF) has for the first time set new standards for operators of iron ore mining leases and ore processing units in a bid to control pollution caused by these activities, sources said. “The setting of pollution measuring standards will help more accurate monitoring and controlling of air pollution in mining sites,” Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) chairman Simon D’Souza said. The new rules will enable GSPCB keep track of violators.
The board already has requisite infrastructure and equipment to measure air pollution and did measure general ambient air quality near mines and industrial estates. “For mining activity, there were no set pollution standards and it was difficult to pinpoint the source of pollution, in the case of a cluster of mines in an area,” D’Souza said.
The sixth amendment to the Environment (Protection) Rules 1986 published recently in the central official gazette raises the legal framework for monitoring and controlling dust pollution in the mining industry. Goa has around 100 working mining leases at any given time, while allegations are rife about illegal mining activity that goes on despite opposition at various levels.
The state government has set up a committee to monitor illegal mining, but this has hardly succeeded in curbing it, sources said. As per the new effluents standards, suspended solids on a non-rainy day should be 50 mg per litre whereas on a rainy day it should be less than 100 mg per litre and oil and grease 10 mg per litre in the case of beneficiation plants.