PVC factory a health hazard: Panel
By our correspondent
July 26, 2005
Chennai, July 25: The Mettur Indian People's Tribunal on Environment and
Human Rights, a panel constituted by activists, released a report in the
city on Monday on the "indiscriminate disposal" of hazardous wastes by
Chemplast Sanmar in Mettur near Salem district of Tamil Nadu.
The panel headed by Justice Akbar Basha Kadri, retired judge, Madras high
court, which went on a three-day tour of the 35 villages surrounding
Mettur between April 29 and May 1 this year, claimed that Chemplast
Sanmar and MALCO have caused "irreparable damage" to the people and
environment of the town.
Speaking to reporters here, Justice Kadri said the panel had met about
800 villagers and former employees of the two factories and were appalled
by the health disorders the villagers were suffering from, allegedly
because of the toxic effluents discharged by Chemplast with the consent
of the state pollution board into the river Cauvery.
Many women had suffered miscarriages and children had lung disorders,
while several residents were suffering from lung and stomach cancer. Due
to handling mercury wastes, without gloves, some of the villagers' hands
had turned white and fingers had become crooked. Even the cattle and
goats had died, he claimed.
R. Madeswaran, a villager from Mettur, alleged that the chemical release
from Chemplast's chlorine plant last year had caused severe damage to the
health of children in the town and the villagers had spent a fortune on
hospitals for treatment. He said that whey they lodged a complaint with
the police, the authorities claimed that there was no leak. Mr. Kadri
said that the agricultural land had become unfit for the cultivation of
any crop. Even the water in the 15 wells they had surveyed had become
brackish and was emitting a foul smell. The red mud dumped on the banks
of the Stanley reservoir by MALCO Ltd could pose a threat to the rivers
in the state by polluting them, according to the panel. Based on its
findings, the panel has made a few recommendations like supply of clean
water to the villagers, compensation for the damage to health and cattle
and an immediate stop to the dumping of red mud, among others. The
villagers do not want the factories to close down, but only follow the
In response to the panel's study, Chemplast issued a statement on Monday
condemning the campaign as malicious. The company claimed that it has not
violated the norms prescribed by the Tamilnadu Pollution Control Board.
The release said, that it did not manufacture many of the chemicals as
claimed by the panel. Chemplast was not responsible for the death of any
fish in river Cauvery and it had not discharged any smelly effluent into
the river. It also said that the quantum of effluent discharge had come
down from 4000 KL to 1500 KL per day.
The company has launched a programme to achieve zero discharge at Mettur
at a cost of Rs. 20 crores. The treated solid waste generated in its
plant was placed in secure landfills and there was no possibility of
percolation of wastes from the pits to the adjacent sub-soil and water
bodies, the company said.
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