In the cement industry, priority is always given to the compliance of Air (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1981. This act has been enacted to prevent or control air pollution. As per the act, we have to monitor the ambient air as well as the air emitted from the stacks on a daily basis. This is done as per the directives issued by the State and Central Board of Pollution Control.
Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 calls for good waste water treatment systems, rain water harvesting and waste water recycling in the industries. These are the three main acts that generally dictate the pollution control initiatives taken by the cement industries in India.
Are these observed both in letter and spirit?
Pollution free environment is everybody´s constitutional right.
We have to understand that the environmental deterioration will eventually endanger life of present and future generations.
The cement industry has matured enough to gauge its footprint on the environment and is consciously taking steps to make the environment better. So yes, we can say that the environmental acts that are binding on the cement industries are observed both in letter and spirit.
So what initiatives can be taken to keep pollution at bay?
There are several ways to keep the air pollution in control. Generally, water sprinklers are used to keep the ambient air clean. Apart from this, bag filters, ESPs (Electro-Static Precipitator), scrubbers, etc., are used to control the pollution from stack emissions.
Is it worth upgrading old plants or is setting up a new plant a better option?
With regards to production and pollution control, until and unless we look at the current status of the old plant, it is tough to decide between the two choices. If the plant is at least semi-automatic, we can upgrade it to be completely automatic and run it in closed circuit mode, making it virtually free of any pollution at all. The upgradation may require incorporation of bag filters, ESPs, scrubbers (wherever required), covering of conveyor belts, hopper for bag filter, bucket chain conveyors and packer machine with enclosure, curtain walls for conveying materials, etc.
These methods will reduce pollution as well as increase productivity. Trees and saplings plantation around the plant can be done to communicate the ´green vision´ of the company and control the overall pollution level around the plant.