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Abandon proposals to set up new units: panel

Special Correspondent
The Hindu
3 October 2006

"Move will aggravate pollution in SIPCOT Industrial Estate"

  • Long-term economic sustainability of the region threatened
  • Creation of value-added opportunities to traditional economies suggested

CUDDALORE: After a public hearing on the proposals to set up new units in the SIPCOT Industrial Estate here, an expert committee has concluded that the move will aggravate pollution problem and threaten a long-term economic sustainability of the region. The committee urged the Tamil Nadu Government to abandon any proposals to set up new units, particularly the groundwater-intensive ones.

Instead, the committee suggested creation of value-added opportunities to traditional economies such as fisheries, agriculture and weaving. The proposed Southern India Mills Association Textile Park, the Chemplast Sanmar poly-vinyl chloride and Nagarjuna petroleum refinery were certainly not in the interest of the local people, and hence, must be given up, it noted.

In its report "Environmental and Human Rights Violations in SIPCOT Complex, Cuddalore", the committee pointed out that the public hearing had brought to limelight the fact that the companies having a political clout could get away with their intransigence on the pollution front.

Local response

It said the pervasive bad odour, the devastated environment and a host of health complaints of residents made the living in the area miserable.

The frustration among the local youth was palpable and the continued collusion between the officials and the polluters could result in a serious law and order situation, it cautioned. The committee squarely blamed the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board and the Inspector of Factories for the negligence in dealing with polluting and hazardous industries in the estate.

It said that rather than improving the local economy, the industries had eroded the self-sufficiency of the region, by throwing weavers, fishermen and farmers out of their traditional livelihood.

Increased health expenditure, combined with lower incomes, had impoverished the communities, and compromised their ability to exercise healthy choices.

The public hearing panel was constituted by the SIPCOT Area Community Environmental Monitoring, the Cuddalore District Consumer Protection Organisation, and the Community Environmental Monitoring programme of The Other Media.

The committee comprised Prof. S. Janakarajan of Madras Institute of Development Studies, Prof. R. Saraswathi, former Head of Department, Department of Sociology in Queen Mary's College, and Rakhal Gaithonde, a community health physician from the Community Health Cell.

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