Residents of a village in Rajasthan are claiming that emissions from a nearby factory are having a negative impact on their health. After a factory was set up in close proximity to Rupaheli Kala village, many of its residents were forced to relocate due to the harmful air pollution it was emitting.
More than 200 families from Rupaheli Kala village have already left the village since the factory began operating, and every year, more families migrate to other towns due to the factory’s emissions.
The factory, named Shantol Green (India) Pvt Ltd, was established in 2012 and specializes in producing hi-green carbon from crumb rubber.
To recycle crumb rubber and tyre chips, the factory uses a continuous tyre pyrolysis process, which is a thermal decomposition technique.
The factory’s recycling process generates by-products such as pryrogas, black carbon, and oil mix water, while also producing low-sulphur industrial fuel oil, carbon black, and steel scraps from the tyre waste.
The situation in the Rajasthan village is unfortunately not unique. Across India, industrial pollution is a major problem, with many factories operating with little regard for the health and safety of nearby residents.
The government has introduced regulations and standards to address this issue, but enforcement is often weak, and many factories continue to operate with little oversight.
Emissions causing health problems
According to the villagers, the emissions are causing a range of health problems, including respiratory issues, skin irritation, and eye problems. Some residents have also reported that their crops and livestock have been affected by the pollution.
The residents of Rupaheli Kala have expressed their concern about the severe air pollution in their village, which has resulted in a high number of asthma and skin disease patients. As a result, around 30 families have relocated to Shashtri Nagar in Gulabpura, which is now known as Chhoti Rupaheli, Mongabay-India reported.
Ramchandra Purohit, a farmer from Aapliyas village, reported to Mongabay-India that the emissions from the nearby factory reach their peak in the early morning hours from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. He claimed that the smoke is so thick during this time that it turns the air completely black, and the smell permeates even the furthest corners of the village.
Ranjeet Singh Rathore, a 70-year-old resident, also expressed his concerns about the strong smell of smoke, which makes it difficult to breathe. Even with doors and windows shut, the smoke manages to infiltrate homes.
According to Bhawani Singh Rathore, the village’s sarpanch, more than 200 families have already left the village, ‘the air pollution has also impacted the daily religious practices of the villagers, as they have had to discontinue their morning Ram-Dhuni chanting and bhajans due to the poor air quality. Singh Rathore warns that if the government fails to take action, the villagers will boycott elections.
Persistently opposing and challenging issues
The villagers have organized several protests against the factory located in their area, with the first public agitation occurring in 2015.
The villagers have raised their concerns with the factory owners and local authorities, but have yet to see any significant action taken.
Since then, they have organized similar public agitations and visited the Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM) office every six months, demanding the closure of the factory.
Although other villages such as Aapliyas, Nangaji-ka-Khera, and Chatarpura also experience pollution from the factory, Rupaheli Kala is the most affected.
Recently, all four village panchayats submitted a letter to the SDM office at Gulabpura on December 22, 2022, demanding the closure of the factory. They also announced a boycott of the assembly election scheduled for the end of 2023.
Factory denies allegations
The factory, on the other hand, has denied the accusations made by the villagers. Nirmal Sutaria, the Director of Shantol Green (India) Pvt Ltd, responded to Mongabay-India’s email by refuting the allegations.
He stated, “The allegations are untrue and have malicious intent. Several employees have been working in our factory for the past decade, and there has not been a single reported case of health problems”.
“We conduct regular health checkups as a standard practice. Furthermore, the village is not in close proximity to the factory. Our employees and their residences are located within the factory premises, where they spend 24 hours a day without any issues, as claimed by these villagers, he added.”
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