Dehradun : Uttarakhand has yet to recover from the after affects of the devastating tragedy that hit the Kedranath valley in June this year. Rather than learning a lesson from it and preserving nature, the Bahuguna government has signed an agreement with Ultratech Cement for setting up two cement manufacturing units.
The two cement producing units, which will involve an investment of about Rs 5000 crores, will produce 3.5 million tones of cement at the Tuini unit in Vikasnagar in Dehradun district and two million tones at the Someshwar plant in Kumaon region of this small hill state. While the babudom is going gaga over the proposed investment that will come to the state, environmentalists are concerned.
Though a senior official claimed that the state government had put in the necessary clauses to ensure that the fragile ecology of this small hill state is not disturbed and that the company will have to fulfill all the guidelines that are laid down, environmentalists claims that anyone having any knowledge of cement manufacturing will agree that environment and cement do not go hand-in-hand.
Obviously the places have been selected by the company because they are located in the limestone rich areas of the state, as limestone is the raw material used for the manufacture of cement. There will be large scale mining of cement from the hills located in the vicinity of the two plants to meet the raw material requirements to manufacture 5.5 million tones of cement annually.
Founder of HESCO, padamshri Dr Anil Joshi said that it would have been appropriate if the Uttarakhhand government had first gone into the reasons why the adjoining Himachal Pradesh government cancelled the agreement for setting up of cement plants for which had given its nod earlier. Obviously there must be some reasons.
Though Uttarakhand Lok Vahini president S S Bist said that the cement plants would be opposed tooth and nail, founder of save Our Rivers, Suresh Bhai said that it was tragic that the state government had taken the decision for allowing the cement plants after having faced the worst-ever tragedy in the memory of the people of the state..
Executive director Navdanya, Dr V K Bhatt said that the cement plants wouild ring the death knell of the environment in Uttarakhand, which will also destroy the agriculture and bio-diversity in the region. Add to this the ill affects on the health of the people living in the region who will have to suffer the pangs of asthma, breathing problems and even cancer, he claimed.
Renowned environmentalist and Magsaysay Award winner Chandi Prasad Bhatt was of the view that Someshwar is one of the most productive valleys of Uttarakhand with the tourist destinat of Kausani close by. “The Tuini region of dehra Dun district is known for apple production and as such the state government should rethink on opening the cement plants in both the places, after considering the various aspects”, he added.
Incidentally it may be pointed out that limesoone quarrying was being done in the Doon Valley and the hill station of Mussoorie, which is also known as the ‘Queen of Hills’ was suffering because of it. It was due to the efforts of the citizens of Dehra Dun and Mussoorie and a litigation in the Supreme Court that the apex court banned lime stone mining in the valley.
Obviously the negative affects of limesone mining, which is essentially the raw material required for producing cement is going to have a deep impact on the environment and ecology of both the places, which past experience has shown in the case of Doon Vally, because of which the apex court banned the mining operations in the valley.