Decion on lifting moratorium on industries March 15

Kolkata, Jan 29 (IANS) The union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) is likely to take a decision after March 15 on lifting a moratorium imposed on the expansion of 26 industrial areas across the country, including West Bengal's Haldia, an official said Tuesday.

"Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has engaged an independent agency to carry out a study for 26 industrial areas, where moratorium was imposed," P.B. Rastogi, director, MoEF, told reporters at the sidelines of The 61st Indian Foundry Congress here.

"The study is being carried out at present and is expected to be submitted by March 15. At that time we can take a decision internally on whether pollution in those areas has really gone down or not," Rastogi said.

He said earlier the moratorium on setting up new industrial plants had been imposed on a total of 84 'polluted' industrial areas, but the ministry lifted the ban on many such areas time to time.

The ban has, however, still remained in 26 industrial areas, including West Bengal's Haldia and at Asansol.

Rastogi said a decision to withdraw the ban could be taken only after Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index (CEPI) improves.

"If CEPI figure comes down below 70 for a particular industrial area where moratorium was imposed, ban will be lifted," he explained.

The central government had imposed a moratorium on setting up major industries in East Midnapore's Haldia as the town was found critically polluted.

The ban, imposed in 2009, has not been lifted despite repeated appeals from the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government, but instead extended twice since then.

"We have received many proposals for setting up new projects at Haldia. But till now the environment ministry has not lifted the moratorium," state Industry Minister Partha Chatterjee has recently said.

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