If you happen to have crossed the Vatava railway station area in recent times, chances are you took out that handkerchief to block smelling the air. Residents in the vicinity have been complaining of a foul and putrid smell in the air, which earlier was suspected to have leaked from petrochemical units and gas plants in the belt.
Area residents and members of the Western Railway Employees Union noted their complaint in an e-mail sent to the chairman of Gujarat Pollution Control Board.
Sanjay Suryabali, joint divisional secretary of Western Railways Employees Union Railways, briefed on the nearly “unbreathable air” on January 3 and January 4. His e-mail also jots down the possibility of air being polluted by factory chimneys two kilometres away. “The GPCB team came to assess the ground situation. In their study, they found that the companies are disposing toxic wastes into water. The water is treated at a nearby plant. Since the direction of wind changes because of winds in winter, the air was carried into the densely inhabited pocket,” he explained.
People living in and around the Railway Colony recalled the nightmarish two days when “children fell ill and breathing was a challenge.”
Meanwhile, the rural officer of Gujarat Pollution Control Board, C.A. Singh was detained for questioning in connection with the complaint. “The factories have been issued a pollution clearance certificate and showed papers to prove that the wastes are within permissible limit. However, to understand the situation better, the official was questioned,” added police insiders.