UltraTech, Ambuja Cement units allegedly violated air pollution levels

Four cement plants have been shut down in Chhattisgarh since early this month on alleged violation of air pollution control norms.

The Chhattisgarh Environment Conservation Board (CECB) confirmed to Business Line that two plants of UltraTech and one each of Ambuja Cement and Lafarge have been under closure for over a week now.

The four units, all in Baloda Bazar district, have a total capacity of 10 million tonnes a year and employed about 5,700, including contract workers. The CECB member secretary, Mr Narsimha Rao, said there were charges of violation and all the units were served prior notices.

Dr S.K. Upadhyay, in charge of the CECB regional office in Raipur, said UltraTech closed its units in Hirmi and Rawan on July 6, while Ambuja and Lafarge shut their units on July 1.

The official said the closure notices to the unit management were issued on July 3 except for Ambuja, which closed on its own.

UltraTech and Lafarge declined to comment.

According to Mr M.M. John, Secretary of the Cement Manufacturers’ Association, Chhattisgarh chapter, the CECB did not follow the law in carrying out inspections and slapping the closure notices. “The State Government acted irresponsibly,” he added.

Industry sources refuted charges of violation of norms.

According to the Association, there are eight operational cement plants in Chhattisgarh belonging to ACC, Ambuja, Jaiprakash Associates, Century Textiles, Lafarge and UltraTech. Their combined capacity is about 17 mtpa (or about 5 per cent of the country’s cement capacity).

Sales impact

Karvy Stock Broking analyst Mr Rajesh Kumar Ravi said: “We estimate UltraTech and Ambuja Cement sales to be adversely impacted due to this shut down. UltraTech’s two plants represent around 9 per cent of its total cement manufacturing capacity. A month’s shutdown would lower the FY13E sales volumes by 1 per cent and 2 per cent, respectively, for UltraTech and Ambuja Cements respectively.”

jayanta.mallick@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on July 17, 2012)
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