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Flash strike at effluent treatment plant

New Indian Express
Tuesday June 13 2006

CUDDALORE: The death of a worker at the common effluent treatment plant (CUSECS) in SIPCOT industrial estate triggered a flash strike by contract labourers here on Monday.

The sudden move caused panic among industrial units as untreated effluents started overflowing from the plant.

Sources said the firms that had been established at the SIPCOT complex nearly two decades ago, had been posing irreparable and adverse damage to environment in the region.

Functioning of the units, including chemical plants, had affected agricultural activities in more than 20 hamlets around the complex.

The ground water table had been contaminated with the unmindful discharge of untreated effluents into the land by the industries. Local residents had raised their voice against the intriguing issue and the government had given its approval for setting up a common effluent treatment plant (CUSECS) in SIPCOT complex.

Industries at SIPCOT had raised nearly Rs 4 crore and established the plant nearly a decade ago. The plant was designed to treat the effluents from the industries, which were let into the sea, about 10 km off Cuddalore coast. The plant had been operated and maintained by Cuddalore SIPCOT Industries Association, spurces said.

The victim K Kathavarayan (35) of Kannithamizh Nadu had been working as a contract labourer at the plant for the past six years. He was diagnosed of blood cancer four years ago. He had been getting treatment as an outpatient at the Adyar Cancer Institute in Chennai. Kathavarayan continued to work at the plant till about a month ago.

On Sunday, he died at his residence. Workers at the plant demanded that the association should provide immediate relief to the family of Kathavarayan on Monday morning. As the office-bearers of the association rejected their demand, immediately the workers engaged in the flash strike and left the place after locking up the unit. They attended the funeral of the deceased.

Meanwhile, learning about the strike, the managements of the industries became panicky and suspended the operation of the plant. However, untreated effluents started overflowing from the plant.

On information, officials from the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board rushed to the spot and commenced the operation of the plant. They also held talks with the workers and assured them that necessary action would be taken to redress their grievance shortly.

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