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Residents plan protest against disposal facility
Fears over groundwater contamination

Saptarshi Bhattacharya
The Hindu
17 April, 2005

CHENNAI: Residents of villages near the Gummidipoondi SIPCOT Industrial Estate, are rallying against the proposed treatment, storage and disposal facility (TSDF) for hazardous wastes at the industrial estate.

They fear that the facility would contaminate the groundwater, pose health hazards for the villagers and destroy agriculture in the region.

They intend to organise a rally and public meeting on Sunday against the hazardous waste landfill coming up at their doorstep. They were agitated to see a group of workers, assisted by earthmovers and other machines, working on the site for the past weeks ago.

T. Sudhakar of the Gummidipoondi Environment Protection Association, set up by the villagers and environmentalists to organise people under one banner against the project, said that the workers had dug two 12-foot-deep 10 ft by 10 ft pits and have marked various other places on the site. No officials were available to answer their questions, he said.

On questioning, the workers said they were doing a soil and groundwater test for the National Environmental Engineering

and Research Institute (NEERI).

An official of the Pollution Control Board said that the ongoing work was only to ascertain the groundwater quality, yield and the depth of the aquifer in different places in and around the site.

The National Groundwater Research Institute would have done the exploration to sink test wells, he added.

The project is coming up at a site that the State Groundwater and Surface Water Resources Centre describes as "White Zone" for groundwater, according to Nityanand Jayaraman of Corporate Accountability Desk.

The current project site, he said, is less than 500 metres from human habitation and is located very close to agricultural lands. Moreover, a portion of the facility is coming up on the Kuluva Cheruvu lake, he added.

The project, undertaken by the 150-member Industrial Waste Management Association would segregate, recycle, reuse and dispose in the landfill more than 35,000 metric tonnes of hazardous wastes in a year generated by 390 industries in Chennai, Thiruvallur and Kancheepuram.

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