CPCB Promises Clear Air to Residents living near Railway Stations

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In reaction to complaints from people residing in areas near railway stations, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has decided to bring detailed guidelines for environment management in such areas, especially in urban parts of the country.

With an ongoing investigation study on railway sidings for past five years, the CPCB is working towards a pollution-free environment for residents living near railway stations. "We have been frequently receiving complaints from the residents living near railway sidings regarding problems of air pollution mainly due to the loading and unloading activities as well as transportation activities from railway sidings. As of now, there are no guidelines for the environmentally-sound management of railway sidings in India," said Anjana Kumari, scientist with the CPCB.

"The work is being done in a phased manner. The detailed guidelines, rules and standards would be prepared after the investigation and measurement pertaining to land, air, water and biological impacts," she said.

Railway sidings have recently attracted attention particularly due to pollution generated during loading and unloading activities and their locations mainly in urban areas. In the railways, freight traffic is operated through sidings. A railway siding is an area used to receive, temporarily store, load and unload material in the rakes.

Sidings are used for marshalling, stabling, storing, loading and unloading vehicles. The materials and commodities are loaded and unloaded on sidings with the linked network of railway track and roads which carry bulk freight such as ores, minerals, iron and steel, cement, mineral oils, food grains and fertilisers, containerised cargo, etc. The loading and unloading of these pollution-intensive commodities create immense nuisance in and around the site.

Currently, there are 859 railway sidings in India. With government's own admission, no pollution control measures have been provided in substantial manner at sidings thereby adversely affecting the environment. Freight services constitute the most important segment of activity of railway business. The Indian Railway carry nearly 970 million tonnes of freight in a year. This translates to about 5,000 freight trains daily. There is no data available on management of pollution from sidings although there are major environmental impacts on water, air, human health, soil degradation and vegetation, etc.

"Cargo services in railways are equally important for the country but environmental impacts are also to be kept in mind. CPCB outsourced a study on inventorisation of all the major sidings in the country and on the basis of the data collected through field surveys as well as questionnaires, the guidelines on 'environmentally sound management of railway sidings' have been developed," said Dr Kumari. "Inventory survey was carried out for all sixteen zones for the collection of the information about existing status of sidings," she said.

Source : India Today

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