Hyderabad: To curb illegal dumping of hazardous chemical waste by pharmaceutical companies in Andhra Pradesh, the state’s pollution control body is working with industry associations to enforce self-regulation by the industry.
“We are working with industry bodies like the Bulk Drug Manufacturers Association (BDMA) to ensure greater compliance,” said Rajeshwar Tiwari, head of Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APPCB).
Two weeks ago, 140 tonnes of hazardous chemical waste was found dumped in Katedan, around 20km north of Hyderabad. Less than a month ago, 50 tonnes of waste was found dumped in the same area. According to data available with APPCB, over the last year, there have been at least a dozen such instances—all in the same area.
“As per current regulations, the fines in illegal dumping cases are Rs25,000 per tonne of waste besides transportation charges for moving the waste from the dumping site to a safe disposal location,” said M. Siva Reddy, head of APPCB’s task force responsible for monitoring the illegal dumping of hazardous waste management. In both the recent cases, APPCB conducted a chemical analysis of the dumped waste to identify the company responsible.
However, the issue gets complicated when there are multiple companies manufacturing similar products resulting in similar chemical waste.
“In the last such case, a few months ago, where we could not identify one individual industrial unit but could narrow down to 90 firms, whose manufacturing activities can result in the chemical waste similar to that was found dumped,” Tiwari said.
APPCB then served notices on all 90 firms but BDMA stepped in and volunteered to pay the fine. “Pollution by anybody can affect the whole region and the blame will be on everybody at the end of the day, which can harm everybody,” said BDMA president M. Narayana Reddy.
Since then, BDMA has been proactive in disposing of chemical waste found dumped and warning responsible members.
Hyderabad has at least 1,500 bulk drug manufacturers and companies manufacturing chemical products and the city already has a ban in place on new industrial units or expansion of current units. The ban was imposed in 1996 by the state government, acting on a Supreme Court order.
BDMA realizes that any further controversy around the issue of pollution in the industrial zone in Hyderabad could seriously affect the bulk drugs industry.
“What they (small manufacturers) don’t realize is that they could end up losing much more if caught, and that is exactly what we try to make them understand,” said Narayana of BDMA. According to an estimate BDMA made in 2005, the industry will be worth Rs20,400 crore in revenue by 2009-10 in the state.
“Smaller bulk drug manufacturers have to keep changing their manufacturing activities depending on market requirements. So when the pollution control board stipulates that you are allowed to dispose of only this much amount of a certain material for the next three years, it becomes very difficult for smaller companies to comply and survive at the same time,” said K. Krishna Chaitanya, executive director of AR Life Sciences Pvt. Ltd, a bulk drug manufacturer with a production unit in the area.