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Ghazipur, oldest factory shut in 2017
Country's biggest, oldest opium factory has been shut for over a month for failing to comply with effluent discharge standards
This 197-year-old factory, said to be the biggest and oldest legal opium factory in India
197-year-old Ghazipur opium factory197-year-old Ghazipur opium factory
VARANASI: "The factory was immense: its premises covered forty-five acre and sprawled over two adjoining compounds, each with numerous courtyards, water tanks and iron-roofed sheds...," writes Amitav Ghosh in 'Sea of Poppies', the first book of his trilogy, about the Ghazipur opium factory.
This 197-year-old factory, said to be the biggest and oldest legal opium factory in India, has been shut for over a month for failing to comply with effluent discharge standards. Though the closure is temporary , it is the first time that the machines in the factory will be silent. The factory has failed to comply with effluent discharge standards and directions to install an online effluent and emission monitoring system. Officially known as Government Opium and Alkaloid Works, the factory's authorities said though it was closed on March 1, regular operations will begin soon after prescribed norms are fulfilled.
Regional officer of UP Pollution Control Board Ghanshyam said, "The management of the Ghazipur opium factory itself ceased operations on March 1 after failing to comply with environmental norms." General manager of the factory Ramesh Kumar said a project to install an online monitoring system and streamline the factory according to the Environment (Protection) Act was in progress."We are hopeful of fulfilling the requirements in the next two months and restart regular operations," Kumar told TOI on Wednesday. "The factory is shut but (manual) testing of opium is in progress. We recently received12,000 containers of opium from Rajasthan. It takes two-three months to complete testing," he added. Set up in 1820, it was in the Ghazipur factory that the processing of opium began in India. Later, an alkaloid plant was set up here in 1943 during World War-II. The factory is spread over an area of about 43 acres.
The other plant for processing opium and to manufacture alkaloids is in Neemuch, Madhya Pradesh. The Alkaloid Works at Ghazipur and Neemuch process raw opium for manufacture of alkaloid drugs like narcotine, thebaine, papaverine and codeine phosphate. Morphine salts and codeine phosphate are the main products supplied by the factories to Indian pharmaceutical industry . According to the records of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the direction to shut the factory was issued on February 10. Earlier, a show-cause notice was issued on July 27, 2015, for installation of an online effluent monitoring device.
The factory was also asked to submit online 24x7 monitoring data to the State Pollution Control Board. However, the unit had not complied with that notice. On January 19, 2016, the factory was asked to shut all plant operations and install an online monitoring system before resuming operations. On February 19, the factory asked for an extension of nine months.The request was granted and the new deadline was November 30, 2016.
However, after this deadline, the unit requested another extension for three months. It was allowed to op erate up to February 28, 2017 but with consent from UPPCB. In January , CPCB inspected the factory . Officials found that it did not meet effluent discharge standards. The sludge drying bed was found full of weeds.There was no measuring system for fresh water consumption. An online effluent and emission monitoring system was also absent. The CPCB then decided to shut all plant operations with immediate effect.