Way out

  • 30/10/2007

Rich producers, users must pay for clean-up

Even after years of protest by people affected by this pollution, the problem remains. Waste is not being transported to effluent plants; it is not known how much waste is generated and so how much should be treated and how; and once treated where waste should be disposed of ; and if it is disposed of in rivers or lakes whether it is clean enough. Clearly, much more will need to be done and this will require both investment and effective regulation.

In all this, the high quantities of antibiotics found in effluents from pharmaceutical units, point to another danger. The cost of treating tiny chemical contaminants is expensive. Who can pay for it? Who is producing it? And for whom? The antibiotics found in effluents are being sold by the biggest in the business today.

Industry says it needs to outsource production of intermediates as part of its business model.But it does accept that it also outsources pollution to the smaller manufacturers who are even less capable of dealing with contaminants. Unfortu-nately, nobody tracks the chain. "Who is outsourcing to whom is classified information,' says Jeevananda Reddy. He gives an instance. "When we visited one factory we found the production was three times higher than the capacity. The work was being done for a major unit in the Bollaram industrial area.'

"In future, policies will be formulated so that outsourcing cannot be done without the permission of the board,' says Tiwari. Clearly, if this is done, it would build the chain for greater user and consumer responsibility. It is evident that pollution is being outsourced because it is too expensive for even the rich to treat. Then how can poor industry, especially the small-scale sector, be expected to pay its costs?

No wonder it is poor industry and the poor people who are being asked to discount their present so that the rich pharmaceutical industry and rich consumers of these medicines can prosper and stay well. The business stinks.

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