BENGALURU: The Supreme Court on Tuesday will resume its hearing of a case to decide the fate of Graphite India Ltd’s Bengaluru factory, located in Whitefield. Following a series of complaints raised by the members and residents of Whitefield, director of Center for Science and Environment Sunita Narain, also a member of the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA), had earlier presented observations to the Supreme Court on Graphite India not using imported petcoke.
The court took note of it on October 9. In the next hearing on October 12, Graphite India had told the court that it was using domestic petcoke for packaging and not as a fuel. The court then directed it to file an affidavit in the matter and also directed Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) to file a report.
Sunita told The New Indian Express, “I received complaints from the residents of Whitefield and then I asked Karnataka State Pollution Control Board to conduct a survey.” She added that post this survey, it was clear that the factory did not abide by the instructions issued to them by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and KSPCB. “Imported petcoke was suggested in its production as this petcoke has minimal traces of sulphur,” she said.
KSPCB Chairman Lakshman said, “Graphite India has stopped production as of now. They have also submitted an undertaking, according to which they will shut down their branch in Whitefield in a few months.” However, a few prominent members of Whitefield Rising, a civic group, said that the company was more likely to upgrade its apparatus which are used in the production of graphite electrodes. They were of the opinion that Graphite India would continue operations post this overhaul. This, however, could not be confirmed from Graphite India.
Black soot horror in Whitefield
Residents say that Graphite India did not bother to take preventive measures for years when layers of black soot (graphite particulate matter) had been settling on food, inside houses, shops and all around the factory area. To highlight the issue, Whitefield residents came up with sensors, which are planted in 12 locations in Whitefield to record air pollution levels.