Risky neighbourhood

A blast at an illegal pharmaceutical unit in Solan in Himachal Pradesh recently has brought the issue of safety and pollution in residential areas to the forefront.

The January 18, 2006, blast shook the nearby buildings, one of which developed cracks. Numerous illegal pharmaceutical units are situated amid the town's residential areas. Despite the blast, as many as 17 new drug units are planned to be set up in Solan with a majority of them in hired private premises. Other new units are to be set up at nearby Deonghat, Saproon, Kather bypass and Rajgarh road.

None of these units have been granted permission by the local municipal committee. Though drug factories are required to leave up to 50 per cent space for maintaining a green area, these units blatantly by-pass all such regulations and building norms. The units often stock hazardous chemicals and equipment.

In another case, a pharmaceutical unit located in a residential area was shifted to Poanta Sahib after local residents protested vehemently against it.