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The Ugly Truth About The Iron & Steel Sector

By Andrew Bell
Posted Aug 29, 2012 in Environment
The iron and steel sector is one of the most thriving sectors and the core of the Indian economy. However, this sector is also one of the most polluting sectors ever. The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) studied the sector for two complete years under the Green Rating Project and concluded that the sector badly struggles to meet the minimum pollution norms. The worst part is that the sector is growing at a rapid rate and steel production is expected to go up nearly five times the current production in the coming two decades. The sector’s environmental performance scores merely 19 out of 100. Below is the report card of steel industries by CSE’s green rating project.
Centre for Science and Environment
The hallmark of GRP is independent and extensive research. It gathers data from a range of stakeholders: pollution control boards, communities, civil societies, plant employees, trade unions, media and on-site survey and does not rely only on information provided by the company. If any company refuses to participate voluntarily, GRP gathers relevant information from secondary sources, crosschecks and prepares profile for each company. These profiles are then sent to the companies for feedback. These profiles become the basis of green rating. To ensure the credibility and transparency, an independent technical advisory panel oversees the entire process of rating. After the ratings are approved by the advisory panel they are made public. Performance of individual companies and the sector was analysed with reference to global best practices.
Areas were given high weight-age were air pollution control, solid waste management and dust emission control from raw material storage and handling. Rating was done on a scale of 10 where the highest score represents theoretical best practices. Even the current best technology did not fetch full marks, as there is scope for improvement. The final scores fetched them Green Leaves Awards.
Centre for Science and Environment
Steel is found to be among the 17 most polluting industrial sectors identified by the Central Pollution Control Board. Almost all the plant the GRP assessed did not comply with the pollution standards in one area or other. Their contribution to air and water pollution was glaringly high, and their track record in solid waste management abysmally poor.
The steel industry pollutes the air most as it emits huge amounts of pollutants into the air during processes. On the top of it, coal based sponge iron units are heavily polluting. The main pollutants are particulate matter, oxides of sulphur and nitrogen and carbon monoxide. Worst part is, India is the largest producer of coal-based sponge iron. The plants prefer to not to run pollution control equipments to save energy cost where many release untreated air through the roof instead of the chimney as pollution is regulated in chimneys.
Of all the sectors rated so far by CSE, the steel sector has the worst compliance record. Regulatory bodies’ performance was not up to the mark, however, the West Bengal pollution control board performed better than others.
For details, read:,0
The findings of the GRP have been published in the book in CSE’s book, ‘Into the Furnace’. To explain the findings of the environmental ranking for all stakeholders, a full-day technical workshop is being organized in Kolkata on Friday, August 31st, 2012. The honorable Minister-in-Charge, Dept. of Environment (Govt. of West Bengal), Dr. Sudarshan Ghosh Dastidar has kindly consented to grace this event and release the book.
Date: August 31st, 2012
Time: 10.00AM - 5.30 PM
Venue: Hotel Lindsay
8A &8B, Lindsay Street, (Opposite New Market)
Kolkata- 700087 (West Bengal)
Centre for Science and Environment
For more on the Kolkata event and other GRP events that are being planned, contact Sanjeev Kumar Kanchan at or +91 8800855090.