Fourteen-year-old Raju plays marbles with his friends on a roadside at Jharia in this coal mining city while trucks travel past them showering fly ash being carried uncovered, exposing them to pollution.
The boy is hardly aware of the health hazard the fly ash poses, but Dhanbad residents are aware of it though they are helpless in the face of open flouting of rules requiring companies to transport coal and fly ash covered in tarpaulin.
Coal industries and washeries have been served notices by the Jharkhand Pollution Control Board asking them to abide by the Air Pollution Control Act which calls for industrial wastes to be transported by trucks covered in tarpaulin.
The issue has reached the Jharkhand High Court which has asked the Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board (JS-PCB) to submit a status report on the steps being taken to curb pollution.
"Indeed! It's a very serious issue and we will place it before the high court. We have taken measures like closing some polluted units, but they got a court order to reopen their units," JS-PCB Chairman Mani Shankar, who himself inspected the "polluted areas" in Dhanbad in June, told PTI in Ranchi.
Shankar said that the JS-PCB had recently served notices to public and private companies against uncovered transportation of coal and fly ash.
The Bharat Coking Coal Limited (BCCL) and Maithon Power Limited (MPL) were served notices after spot inspections and asked them to meet the norms by August 21, failing which "we will take action like ordering closure of their units".
Shankar said, "Unless the industries follow the norms, the moratorium against pollution-related matters imposed by the Union Environment Ministry in Nirsa and parts of Baghmara and Jharia blocks in Dhanbad will continue, incurring losses.