Malls Creating Pollution

Behind the glitz and glitter, muck and toxic smoke. A recent study has shown that mall mania in Kolkata may not just be burning holes in pockets it could be blasting a bigger hole in the ozone layer in the city skies.

Waste generated by malls is a major cause of air and soil pollution in Kolkata, says a study conducted by R K Pachauri’s Tata Energy Research Institute. Together with the booming real estate industry, malls and the consequent jump in traffic pollution (thanks to the lakhs of vehicles clogging nearby roads) account for a shocking 30% of all the pollution in and around the city.

S P Gonchoudhuri, managing director of West Bengal Green Energy Development Corporation (WBGEDC), said malls were polluting the environment in two ways. “First, the stores give out the purchases in plastic bags, which are an environmental hazard. The malls also use up a huge amount of electricity and generate greenhouse gases. We are working with the urban development department to make the green rating system mandatory for all commercial buildings in the city. This will help us gauge the extent of pollution and find ways to save energy,” he said.

The plastic waste that piles up in and around malls and other commercial establishments is a major cause of pollution, the study found. The state plastic management committee under the environment department recently issued directives for better management of plastic waste. State environment secretary M L Meena, also the committee chairman, has issued a circular to all municipal authorities in the state to comply with the directives by August 31.

The circular says that by August 31, all municipal bodies will have to issue directives to malls and restaurants within their jurisdiction on the proper collection of plastic waste. The authorities will also have to submit a compliance report to the environment department by September 15. The malls and fast-food centers will have to send the plastic waste to authorized recycling units and the state pollution control board (PCB) will monitor the process.

The environment department wants civic bodies in the state to liaise with the PCB to set up new plastic recycling units within their municipal areas. “More such recycling centers are required in the districts as malls and other commercial establishments are coming up in semi-urban areas as well,” said a PCB official.

To address the problem at the source, WBGEDC is working on a plan to introduce jute- and fibre-based carry-bags at malls. “We are requesting mall developers to urge store-owners to use these eco-friendly bags instead of plastic ones. We have already received positive responses from some owners. The idea is to check pollution and save energy,” said Gonchoudhuri.

Mall developers said they would comply with the norms to keep the surroundings clean. “A private agency has been appointed to dispose of waste materials. We would be happy to follow all pollution control norms,” said Bengal Ambuja managing director Harsh Neotia, who has set up City Centre in Salt Lake.

“A private operator having a KMC licence is already doing the job to keep the mall surroundings clean. We would definitely follow government norms to keep the environment pollution-free,” said Sanjeeb Mehra, vice-president (mall operations), South City mall.

One Comment

  1. Posted August 19, 2008 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

    Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries has announced a 50-50 partnership with US-based real estate investment trust, Vornado to invest $500 million in a shopping mall joint venture. Under the venture, RIL and Vornado Realty Trust would commit up to $250 million each to acquire, develop and operate retail shopping centers across key cities in India. “The shopping centers will contain 500,000 to 1,000,000 or more square feet and typically be anchored by a hypermarket to be owned and operated by Reliance,” Mr. Vornado said.For more view-

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