Bhutan Bitumen Industries Private Limited (BBIPL) at the Pasakha industrial estate has filed a case against its neighbour, the Saint Gobain Ceramic Materials Bhutan Private Limited (SGCMBPL), alleging that it is releasing harmful fumes and damaging its roof due to corrosion.

BBIPL filed the case with the Phuentsholing drungkhag court more than three months ago and demanded Saint Gobain to compensate for the damage.

Managing director with BBIPL, Tshering Dorji, said that the sulphur dust particles emitted from SGCMBPL plant fell on their factory’s roof and corroded the sheets. “I think when particles mix with water, it turns harmful.”

He said that they can make money but they should monitor the pollution control system properly.

Although BBIPL started functioning in 2009, Tshering Dorji said that their infrastructure was in place since 2005 and such corrosion was not reported.

“Saint Gobain started along with us in 2009 and then our roofing started corroding,” he said, adding that the fumes may also have health implications for people in the industrial estate.

Tshering Dorji also said that emission of harmful fumes from Saint Gobain plant has affected other industries nearby. “But they are not voicing it out.”

He said BBIPL had raised the issue since 2011 and it appealed to both the National Environment Commission (NEC) and Association of Bhutanese Industries (ABI) prior to filing the case to court. “However, nothing has happened.”

He claimed that other industries also complained. “BBIPL has replaced the damaged CGI sheets two times now.”

Another industry next to BBIPL and closer to Saint Gobain, Kenpa Private Limited (KPL) has also been affected, according to its managing director Dorji Tshering.

He said there is pollution and it is not just the two industries that are affected but also many others. “BBIPL and Kenpa are affected the most, owing to the proximity to Saint Gobain.”

Dorji Tshering said Saint Gobain plant releases sulphur dioxide. “This gas, when mixed with water, reacts and turns to sulphuric acid and affects our industries.”

KPL manufactures cooking oil in Pasakha.

An environment officer with the NEC in Thimphu, Tshering Dorji, said that NEC couldn’t comment, as the case was in the court now. “We should act based on the court,” he said. “Nothing has come from the court as of now.”

Saint Gobain did not comment on the matter, reasoning the case was in court now.

It was learnt that in 2015, following an agreement with NEC in 2014, industries in Pasakha installed gas-cleaning plants as a measure to filter hazardous emissions and control pollution.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing