February 22, 2011

Govt may ban ammonia in cold storage units

TNN, Jan 25, 2011, 12.55am IST

KOLKATA: First Barrackpore, then Manicktala and now Nagerbazar. Worried by the repeated incidents of gas leak in densely populated areas, the West Bengal Pollution Control Board is considering banning the use of ammonia in cold storages.

"There are other options, already in use, which can be minimise the use of ammonia and chlorine in coolants," said a PCB official. The board is likely to issue a directive on January 27.

PCB has asked its scientists to find out if climatic conditions this winter has been the coldest in years could be one of the factors in the recurrent gas leaks.

PCB officials admit that there is no mechanism to monitor these small cold storages spread out in the outskirts. "The volume of ammonia they store is within permissible limits. We cannot book them for air or water pollution. We are monitoring the large ones situated outside the KMA limits," a PCB officer said.

All these units came up before the West Bengal Town and Country Planning Act, 1979, came into force. In 1997, the PCB took an initiative to identify hazardous industries to move them out of the city. "The government shifted the Howrah foundry units and tanneries in the Beliaghata, Tiljala and Topsia under Supreme Court directives but cold storages escaped the notice of the board because they do not regularly discharge effluents," the PCB official said.

There is another side to the story. Unlike other metros, Kolkata did not have a land map demarcating residential, industrial and mixed areas. This allowed many residential complexes to come up in erstwhile industrial areas in North 24-Parganas, Howrah and Kolkata. When KMDA put the land map in place, it could do little about the old units.

Complaints about these units poured in from residents but the government could not relocate them due to lack of space. Now, the government is considering a proposal to bring all chemical storage units under the scanner. "The PCB is preparing a list of all such units to bring them under the Factory Act," said an official.

Good harvest cools potato prices

20 Jan, 2011, 01.14AM IST, Sutanuka Ghosal & Madhvi Sally,ET Bureau

KOLKATA & CHANDIGARH: Though onion prices are yet to cool down, potato prices have dropped at the retail end. An early good crop of potatoes in Punjab, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh has pushed down the prices. While in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, mandi prices of the Pukhraj variety are hovering around Rs 2.50-2.75 per kg, the mandi price is about Rs 4 - 4.50 per kg in West Bengal. Potato prices in southern India are ruling at Rs 14-16 a kg.

According to industry officials, supplies will pick up by the second week of February across the main centres of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal. Sachid Madan, director, Technico Agri Sciences, a subsidiary of the cigarette-to-hotel major ITC, said potato production was likely to remain at 32 million tonne and prices would be firm. “Prices will correct when cold stores open by February,” he said while adding that the processing varieties will be harvested by the second week of February.

“The prices of processing varieties such as Chipsona and Lady Rosetta are ruling at `10 a kg in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh whereas in Uttar Pradesh the prices are at `6.5-7 a kg,” he said.

Bengal is expecting a 95-lakh-tonne production this year as well. “Weather has been favourable. Though the sowing area is slightly less this year, we expect production will be around 95 lakh tonnes,” said Sanatan Santra, president of West Bengal Progressive Potato Traders Association.

At a Ludhiana mandi, Rajesh Khanna, owner of Ramji Das Benarsi Das, said potato was sold for ` 6 a kg in January first week but the price has gradually fallen. On Wednesday, spot prices were quoted at `2.50-2.75 per kg for the early-crop Pukhraj variety. He added that prices were ruling at `4- 4.50 a kg in West Bengal and `4.50 at the Khandauli mandi in Agra.

WB government to constitute medical board

Kolkata, Jan 19 (PTI): Acting on Calcutta High Court directions, the West Bengal government today said it will pay compensation to the relatives of those killed and injured in the January 7 Lalgarh firing in West Midnapore district and also constitute a medical board."We have decided to constitute a medical board headed by Director Health Services comprising two medical officers.The board will examine the nature of injury, serious or otherwise so that the compensation amount can be fixed," Chief Secretary Samar Ghosh told reporters here.

The board will be functional by Saturday, Ghosh said.The high court has directed that the kin of those killed be paid Rs two lakh each, the seriously injured Rs one lakh each and those with minor injuries Rs 50,000 each within seven days.On the investigation, Ghosh said that since the court has directed that the investigation will be carried on by the CID, it has been asked to expedite the investigation under a senior officer and report to the state government."We will have to produce developments so far as investigation is concerned, to the court on February 4," Ghosh said.On armed camps, Ghosh said, "A joint team of police and central forces will look into the list of camps placed in court."