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Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

By Rasana Atreya
Published in The Times of India, Pune Edition

That Pune is one of the most polluted cities in India is beyond dispute. But what is especially worrisome is that one of the more significant causes of pollution, a brick kiln, which emits harmful gases, is located right next to a prominent school where hundreds of children are being exposed to its toxicity on a daily basis.

The school, Delhi Public School in Mohammadwadi, has been actively trying to have the brick kiln moved to an alternate location. According to the school headmistress Mrs. Chakrabarty, “This school is for children, so we want this out”. Says Col. Sinha, the school’s Chief Operating Officer, “The school has a written notice from Mr. Prabhakar Deshmukh, the Pune District Collector, that the kiln will be moved out by July”.

Pune’s Municipal Commissioner Dr. Nitin Kareer, has this to say, “The PMC has asked the government for alternate land for brick kilns, and it is also trying to incentivise the conversion of land from use of brick kilns to residential”. He adds that the relocations of all kilns close to populated areas will on hinge on how soon the government can allocate land, though he isn’t able to comment on a specific kiln.

Meanwhile, according to Dr. Ajay Ojha, Program Manager of Pune’s Air Quality Management Cell, work is being done to move all kilns out of the city. He adds, “I hope that this will be done in the next 6 months. The plan is complicated because we need to make sure that standards are complied with.”

Brick kilns are known to be a significant source of pollution. Some of the toxic emissions from the kilns are Carbon Monoxide and Sulphur Dioxide and also PM10, a major air pollutant consisting of tiny particles that can settle in the lungs. All these pollutants together are known to cause asthma attacks, chronic bronchitis, chronic coughs, impaired vision, reduced brain function, and even death.

With all the conflicting statements on the relocation of the kiln, it is unclear what the real timeline is. Meanwhile the children of DPS continue to breathe in the toxic air.

The Times of India, Pune Edition

July 9, 2006

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