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Hazardous chemical to inflammable material: Govt flags health, environmental risks as industrial units start operations

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir government have flagged the health and environmental risks as industrial units start operations after prolonged lockdown. 

“Due to the sudden lockdown and closure of industrial units, it is possible that some of the operators might have not followed the established SOP required for closure of plants for a long period. As a result some of the manufacturing facilities, pipelines, valves, etc may have residual chemicals, which may pose a risk,” said the circular issued by Industries Department.

 The industries department said the accumulation of chemicals in the storage facilities pose a risk to the environment. “The same is true for storage facilities with hazardous chemicals and flammable materials. The Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules, 1989 under the Environment Protection Act 1986 provide statutory requirements of these industries,” the circular said

 The government has now directed the unit holders to furnish a certificate of compliance of these SOPs and guidelines to the Director Industries and Commerce. “All the industrial units which have been permitted to operate during the lockdown period shall comply with the mentioned guidelines,” the circular said.

The government also directed the closed units to devote initial days for making their plant compliant to the government set norms.

On April 17, Jammu and Kashmir administration permitted industrial units to resume operations and issued a list of SOPs to be followed by the unitholders.

In the list, the government stressed the minimizing of commuting by the manufacturing units holders. The government directed the unitholders for maintaining the health and hygiene of the workplace by spraying disinfectants and frequent cleaning of common surfaces.

The government through the SOPs has also directed the unit holders to ensure the use of face masks, temperature screening, and prohibition of smoking tobacco and chewing of gutka.

It also directed the unitholders for encouraging social distancing by abolishing large gatherings, sitting at 6 feet away from each other, allowing up to 4 persons to use the lifts, disallowing non-essential visitors, medical insurance of employees, identification of nearby COVID-19 hospitals and reducing manpower to one third.

Later MHA, National Disaster Management Authority on May 9 also asked the industry operators for compliance of provisions of guidelines of chemical disasters 2007 and management of chemical disasters 2009.

 The guidelines by Centre called for considering the first week of operations as a trial and test run in order to minimize the risk.