Green Construction: West Bengal Hopes for an Eco-Friendly Festive Season


Plans to Launch a Pro-Environment App

In a bid to ensure an eco-friendly Durga puja, the West Bengal Pollution Control Board has announced the launch of an app to help with this goal. The app was developed to create awareness of green standards during the festival and also to offer locals the opportunity to easily submit complaints against those who violate these standards. The app is available from the Google Play Store. According to WBPCB chairman, Kalyan Rudra, some of the guidelines on ‘Poribesh’ on the app include a ban on painting idols with artificial paint or color that contains toxic metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium. Using loudspeakers from 10 pm to 6 am has also been restricted and using DJs during idol immersion is completely banned. Additionally, Rudra stated that all puja committees have been requested to install noise limitation devices to speakers.

A Range of Green Initiatives

A minimum of seven teams of mobile WBPCB officers was mobilized. It was their responsibility to patrol the streets of the city and neighboring areas between 5 pm and 10 pm during the festival evenings. The teams used devices to check for sound pollution. Another initiative involved raising awareness of the dangers of pollution while warning the public against littering with items commonly used during festivals like thermocol plates and single-use plastic bags. The board also introduced the ‘Green Puja Contest’ a competition for puja committees with the objective of encouraging them to follow the green standards during the festival. The top three eco-friendly pujas were given cash prizes in recognition of their efforts.

Taking Action in the Construction Industry

One of the main reasons behind the particulate matter being present in the air in West Bengal between November 2017 and March 2018 was the dust produced as buildings are constructed. Suvendu Adhikary, the environment minister of West Bengal, announced that construction companies and agencies were asked to cover building sites. The goal of this initiative is to prevent pollution by stopping dust particles from becoming airborne and spreading throughout the city and neighboring areas. They would furthermore request that buildings and construction sites be wrapped with geo-textile fabrics and dust barriers that are appropriate to the locations be installed. Minister Adhikary stated that his department would collaborate with the West Bengal Pollution Board (WBPCB) to monitor the activities in the construction industry.

After a meeting held between the minister and officials representing the environment and private property companies HRBC and CREDAI, construction companies were also asked to ensure that the soil is kept moist throughout all earth-moving activities. Water should be applied before the earth is leveled or before other activities that involve earth-moving take place.

Committed to a Cleaner Environment

When speaking at a press meeting, Minister Adhikary revealed that Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), PM 2.5 and PM (particulate matter) in the city’s air were still not compliant, but that nine other parameters around the city and neighboring areas were found to be compliant. These parameters included ozone, SO2, CO, nickel, arsenic, lead, benzene and ammonia. Minister Adhikary expressed his commitment to an environment that is 100% clean and further mentioned that environmental pollution in the city turned out to be less disturbing than what had been projected. The minister stated that the issue of the three parameters that were non-compliant was being addressed with an action plan that was recently launched. Part of the plan involves curbing pollution from older vehicles. From early 2019, commercial vehicles older than 15 years were no longer allowed to enter the city. This followed a circular issued by the transport department.

Another circular was issued prohibiting the burning of tires, firewood and straw. Ten groups were assembled and are undertaking unceasing raids around various parts of the city to enforce the rule. Minister Adhikary said, “As part of our aim to stop burning waste and solid burning, we have formed the teams which will undertake raids in different zones around the city. However, we will give people who have small roadside businesses a range of incentives, so that they can begin their business with alternate resources.” The minister also stated that the government no longer partakes in waste burning at the dumping ground in Dhapa and that there are plans to stop burning waste at other dumping grounds. The hope is that this will help stop particulate matter accumulating in the city’s air.

Monitoring Progress

Ten devices will be installed which will collect dust particles in the air at different points around the city and an additional five air monitoring stations that are automated will be fitted in addition to the two current automated stations located in Rabindra Bharati University in BT Road and Victoria Memorial. Once all the initiatives are put in place, it is expected that the results of their efforts will be seen as soon as the following winter.



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