VISAKHAPATNAM: Environmental pollution in Visakhapatnam city is a reality and immediate measures should be taken with an effective action plan for implementation within a specific time frame, felt Ashwani Kumar, chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment and Forests. The committee asked the state government to prepare a vision plan for environmental protection and submit the same to the committee.
Addressing mediapersons after the two-day visit to Port city concluded Monday, Ashwani Kumar said that the committee had taken cognizance of the fact that Vizag bowl area is posing a major challenge on the environment, as the polluting gases are not being able to escape into the atmosphere. “Specific geographical features of Visakhapatnam were discussed during our deliberations with government agencies and also civil organisations for effective implementation of the pollution control board norms,” he said.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee chairman said the pollution caused by the Visakhapatnam and Gangavaram ports figured prominently in the discussions.
The Visakhapatnam Port authorities had given the committee an assurance that cargo handling at the port was being mechanised and rationalised, vastly reducing the pollution levels.
Sources said that activist Shirin Rehman raised the issue of pollution caused by the port and suggested that immediate measures should be taken for reducing it. She is learnt to have pointed out that despite the measures taken up by the port, the pollution levels were still above the permissible limits.
“We also received several petitions from the NGOs, and other civil society organisations differing with the port authorities. I am confident that the port authorities will keep their promise and bring down the pollution levels to acceptable limits,” Ashwani Kumar added. He pointed out that vehicular pollution was a major problem and in addition to the existing 7.3 lakh vehicles, about 350 new vehicles are being registered every day in the city. The committee wanted the police to strictly implement the emission norms.
The committee was also concerned about the increasing use of urea and fertilisers and emphasised the need to regularise the usage of the same with the help of farmers and scientists. The civic authorities were asked to revive treatment plants to handle bio-waste and initiate measures to tackle e-waste at the earliest.
When the fishermen associations pointed out at frequent violation of the Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) norms in the city, the committee members admitted that implementation of the CRZ norms was crucial to prevent coastal erosion. They wanted the district administration to come up with an action plan in association with the civic bodies of the city for effective implementation of CRZ norms.
Ashwani Kumar felt the need for a long-term vision and a short-term action plan for addressing environmental challenges in the city and said that the committee will make suitable recommendations to the government in this regard.