Pharma units fair poorly in environmental compliance, but still allowed to operate Now, High Court w

Gangtok, 20 Apr:

Public complaints about slackness at pharmaceutical units operating in the State have been voiced frequently. Occasionally, some government officials also make inspection rounds and press releases arrive about orders issued and directions passed. Rarely has the actual non-performance of these units, when it comes to manufacturing with responsibility, been as clearly exposed as it was revealed in the High Court on 18 April when it came to light that even by official yardsticks, almost all such units in the State rate between “very poor” to “poor” when it comes to compliance with environmental norms.

And the High Court has not taken lightly to this situation where these units are allowed to continue operations despite air and water pollution in the area.

Hearing a Public Interest Litigation on “Discharge of effluents by Pharma Companies situated at Singtam,” the High Court Division Bench of Chief Justice Satish Kumar Agnihotri and Justice Bhaskar Raj Pradhan, on receipt of “Consolidated Statement for Status of Compliance” submitted by the State Pollution Control Board wondered how it was being contended that the industries have full compliance with mandatory requirements when they clearly don’t.

It is apparent that these Pharmaceutical companies operating in and around Singtam are in gross contravention of the Environmental Protection Act, 1986 and Hazardous & Other Wastes Management Rules along with guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court which are mandated for necessary compliance.

The “consolidated statement” submitted by the SPCB as an affidavit in the High Court led the Division Bench to remark that none of the pharmaceutical companies in Sikkim has a 100% compliance score, and yet it is claimed that they have full complaince.

In fact, the status of compliance report of the SPCB for 16 pharma companies located in the stretch from Ranipool to Rorathang reveals their compliance score varies rates from poor to very poor. The score for such units across the State varies from 8% to 69.2 %, none meeting the 100% compliance which, one would expect to be a mandatory requirement.

There are around 54 Pharmaceutical units established in Sikkim, of which nine are yet to begin operations.

The environment assessment report also came to fore only after the PIL was taken up by the High Court.

While taking serious note on the situation, the High Court division bench has granted the State Government one week time to file a detailed affidavit justifying as to how companies not complying with the condition of 100% compliance score are permitted to operate causing air and water pollution in the area.

Amongst the very poorly performing Pharmaceutical companies are STP Pharmaceuticals, Sangkhola, which has a compliance score of only 8%, followed by SBL Pvt Ltd, Majhitar, with 8.7% as of 10 March 2018.

Lupin Ltd, situated at Bhasmey in the East Sikkim, followed by Golden Cross Pharma Pvt Ltd at Rorathang East and Cipla whose Unit- I situated at Kumrek, and Unit-II at Taza near Rorathang in East Sikkim have compliance of 69%, 66%, 64% and 60 percent and the rest have not crossed even 45%.

The SPCB has, however, accorded clearance to operate all these Pharmaceutical units.