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Industries Operate Illegally in SIPCOT; TNPCB fails to take Action

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Cuddalore, 30 December 2008: Most of the units in SIPCOT are operating in violation of the provisions of the Environment Protection Act and the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) even though is aware of the problem has failed to bring the violators to the book declared a report released by SIPCOT Area Community Environmental Monitoring (SACEM) in Cuddalore. The report titled "Groundtruths II: Status of Hazardous Wastes and Pollution in SIPCOT Chemical Estate, Cuddalore", reveals that at least 8 of the existing units in and around SIPCOT area do not have a valid Consent to Establish; 22 are operating without a valid license under Air and Water Acts, at least 17 of them do not have a valid authorization under the Hazardous Waste Rules and 5 out of 7 SIPCOT units that require CRZ clearance do not have this clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests. "Violations of license and authorisation regulations are prosecutable offences under Air and Water Acts requiring stringent civil and criminal reparations. No unit can lawfully function without these permissions. Till date, not one prosecution has been initiated against any of the errant officials in SIPCOT industries," said SACEM.

This report is a follow up of SACEM's earlier report in 2005 which was presented to the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee on Hazardous Waste briefing them about the functioning of the SIPCOT units at that time. According to the report the regulatory compliance of the SIPCOT units have deteriorated since then. The report claims that "in most instances, the violators were not first-time offenders, but repeat law-breakers. Despite that no decisive action has been taken till date to repair the situation or punish those guilty for hurting public health and the environment".

According to this report, SACEM has also highlighted that the TNPCB has failed in carrying on with its duties in SIPCOT Cuddalore. The quality of Board's investigation, scientific understanding of the officials, their unwillingness to implement the laws and the lack of culture of sharing information with the communities have been highlighted as matters of serious concern. "All information about the consent conditions of the SIPCOT units have been obtained from the TNPCB Chennai office, so it is quite clear that that the Board is aware of these illegalities but still has done nothing to implement the law," said SACEM. This report is a striking evidence of the disparity of facts presented by the TNPCB and other authorities and the reality on ground in the industrial complex. SACEM has demanded legal action against the units in violation of the law in SIPCOT area, prosecution of the directors of these units for violating the provisions of the EP Act, Water and Air Acts. SACEM has also demanded an investigation by higher authorities in the manner of discharge of duties of the TNPCB DEE and AEE of Cuddalore and immediate action on the officers if found errant. Among other things SACEM demands a 24 hour hotline for environmental complaints, mandatory disclosure of all information regarding the operation of SIPCOT units and training of local health and police officials for proactive action on the implementation of environmental related laws in the district.

For more details contact:
Shweta Narayan 9444024315; T. Arulselvam 9443737134
Community Environmental Monitoring, No 42 A, First Floor, 5th Avenue, Besant Nagar, Chennai 600090
www.sipcotcuddalore.com

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