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Campaign against polluting units

New Indian Express
30 July, 2005

SALEM: The India People Tribunal (IPT) on Environment and Human Rights found fault with two companies in Mettur for the "irreparable damage" to the ecosystem.

NGOs and activists, who were campaigning against industrial pollution in Mettur, had planned to mount international pressure on the industries for negligent handling of hazardous waste and also against processing of products, which are potentially harmful to the environment.

Indicting Madras Aluminum Company Ltd (MALCO) and Chemplast Sanmar, the IPT panel chief and retired chief justice Akbar B Kadri said it was convinced beyond ambiguity that there were serious problems with the way the two companies were handling highly hazardous processes and their by-products. "It is ironic that in the wake of the fight for Cauvery water, whatever little water that enters TN had been contaminated," he said.

IPT, which conducted a public hearing on effects of industrial pollution at Mettur from April 30 till May 1, 2005, released its report in Salem on Wednesday. Akbar released the book to a group of children from Golden Gates Matriculation HSS who carried out a study on a local environmental issue recently as part of their community learning programme.

Prominent members from environmental groups also were present during the release. Piyush Sethia, Director, Socio Economic Environmental Development, one of the major local environmental organizations and a participant in the IPT’s public hearing on industrial pollution in Mettur, said that if the recomendations of the panel were not carried out, the NGOs and activists would rope in international green movements into the picture, particularly against the manufacture of products which caused harm to environment.

London-based activists and shareholders would raise MALCO’s bauxite mining practices in Yercaud and Kolli hills at the shareholders’ meeting of the Vedanta group, UK, which is scheduled to be held on August 3. An exculsive report on the bad mining practices in India would be released at the meeting.

People, who were directly affected, would observe a fast in Mettur and a two-way padayatra from Mettur to Cuddalore and Cuddalore to Mettur. There is severe opposition to Sanmar group’s PVC plant in Cuddalore, said another activist.

MALCO’s red mud dump on the banks of the Stanley reservoir posed a serious threat to Tamil Nadu’s ecological security. During heavy rains, the dumps of toxic red mud, which had chemicals like Carcinogens, entered and slit up the water spread. Chemplasts’ PVC effluents that were let into the Cauvery river contained about 17 toxic chemicals, including Ethylene dichloride, Vinyl chloride monomer, Ethylene dichloride, whose levels were up to 32,000 times higher than the safe levels.

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