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Mettur Farmers Affected

Natasha Raj
NDTV India

Thursday, November 15, 2007 (Chennai): Farmers of Mettur are up in arms against the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) for failing to take note of the severe ground water pollution affecting the region.

Protesting against the situation, the farmers staged a mock funeral, women mourned what they call the death of Mettur's land, water and air.

This was the last resort for the farmers urging the board to clean up toxic effluents allegedly discharged by PVC manufacturers into the River Cauvery.

Studies by local environmentalist of Mettur's well water, soil and effluents have found levels of mercury sediments and hazardous dioxins at excessive levels.

"We've found 52 toxic chemicals including dioxins, Furrans, Mercury at high levels. What this means is, there is a public health emergency in Mettur. There is a livelihood emergency in Mettur," said Nityanad Jayaraman, activist, Community Environmental Monitoring.

Environmentalists say improper disposal of mercury and other toxic wastes has become a grave problem that has persisted for decades in Mettur, damaging agricultural lands and contaminating water.

Now, the harmful effects of long term exposure poses serious health hazards for these farmers. Residents of the area are suffering with various ailments due to the contamination.

"Our children are weak and have breathing problems," said a woman.

"I'm suffering from skin disease. My daughter too has a heart problem. We even suffer from irregular menstrual cycle," she added.

One of the companies held responsible denies discharging toxic wastes but the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board has promised to examine the complaints.

"We will visit Mettur and wait for the report. After studying it we will take neccessary action," said Balaji, Joint Engineer, TNPCB.

Another promise, another glimmer of hope, that the farmers of Mettur will now have to rely on.

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