PUNE: At a time when the city is battling COVID-19, a virus known to affect the respiratory tract, residents of Baner, near Yogi Park, find themselves inhaling fine dust every day with a ready-mix cement (RMC) plant operational bang in the middle of a residential area and also just across the road from an old-age home.
Petrified, the local citizens have posted a complaint to Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), highlighting how this worsens their vulnerability to the pandemic.
The plant, located on an open plot and flanked by residential societies such as Silver Dale and Urban Crest, has been operational for the past one month.
Worse, it is less than 50 metres away from the old-age home— Satyak — across the road. Residents have been complaining of the air becoming heavy with the tiny flying particles which has already led to respiratory issues.
“By now we all know how COVID-19 impacts respiratory functioning. Just when we need to boost our immunity to survive this pandemic, the RMC plant, running in our area for the past one month, has become a cause for concern for all residents here. The air is thick with dust and it is bound to affect our respiratory system. Should somebody get infected by COVID-19, his/her compromised respiratory functioning could even prove to be fatal,” Anuj Singh, an IT professional residing close to the plant, told Mirror.
Similarly, Suryakant Dalvi, a senior citizen from the area, complained, “We have a lush green hill in the neighbourhood which works like a local lung. But its advantage has been lost to the pollution the RMC plant is spreading. There is dust everywhere and we are facing problems in breathing.”
It may be recalled that in October 2019, Mirror had reported about an RMC plant that was running in the middle of a residential area in Balewadi. Pursuant to the report, the plant was shut down. Citing that case, the locals have urged PMC to take action against the plant in their area.
“There are clear guidelines from the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) against any RMC plant being set up within 100-metre distance from any human habitat and further stipulating that it should maintain a distance 200 metres from sensitive places.
However, this plant is right in the middle of residential complexes which are all within 100 metres. This makes it clear that the plant is illegal, hence it should be shut down with immediate effect,” insisted Rajan Joshi, a senior citizen from the same locality.
Drawing attention to the offending unit’s proximity to the old-age home, Deepa Navale, another local resident and a homemaker, observed, “We’ve seen the senior citizens living in the home ritualistically using its common area to take in some fresh air. However, what they are unwittingly breathing in, the past month, has been air laden with fine dust from the plant. Should any of them develop respiratory issue, it will be difficult for them to recover.”
The air is thick with dust and it is bound to affect our respiratory system—Anuj Singh, an IT professional
All efforts made by Mirror to draw out the name of the owner of the plant from the workers present at the site proved futile as they refused to divulge any detail. Interestingly, despite the online complaint lodged by the residents, PMC’s assistant commissioner, Jaydeep Pawar, who is in charge of the Aundh-Baner ward office, was clueless about the issue. “I am not aware of an RMC plant being operational in a residential area. I will ask the officer concerned to look into the matter and ensure that necessary action is taken in this regard,” he told Mirror.