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Tuesday, July 31, 2001

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Smoke from chimney affects residents

By P.Oppili

CHENNAI, JULY 30. The electric crematorium is part of the Besant Nagar landscape, but this essential community facility is also a cause for resentment among many residents.

Those living on the 1st Main Road, 3rd, 4th and 31st Cross Streets and Kakkan Colony, in Besant Nagar and SBI Colony and Jayaram Avenue in Shastri Nagar, face a peculiar problem. Smoke from the chimney is posing a threat to the very existence of people in the area, they complain.

The ash and particles flying from the chimney settle on the houses located close to the crematorium. Many residents keep the windows closed throughout the day. The worst-affected are children. With the dust level increasing day by day, some property owners on the 1st Main Road have sold their houses and vacated the area, says Mr. R. N. K. Prasad, who has been living there for about three decades. `When relatives visit us, they stay for a very short duration and leave on seeing the proximity of crematorium to our houses', he says.

The situation worsens when the number of bodies cremated is higher, says Mr. G. Balasubramanian, a resident of the 4th Cross Street. As his house is located very close to the crematorium, he is unable to dry clothes outside the house. A few years ago, only a few bodies would be brought for cremation, but the situation has changed now. Invariably, more than half a dozen bodies come from various parts of the city and its outskirts, he says.

Last year, the residents organised a signature campaign and sent a memorandum to the Pollution Control Board, stating that the crematorium had failed to follow the norms prescribed by the Board. Similarly, requests were sent to the Chennai Corporation to increase the height of the chimney. But nothing was done, the residents complain.

Fitting a filter to the chimney is one of the suggestions made by the residents. This would stop the particles from flying out. This has also not been considered, the residents lament.

Mr. V. Sudarshan of the 1st Main Road says that four days in a week he sends his child to the house of a relative in West Mambalam, fearing that the child will develop diseases due to the smoke and ash from the chimney.

There is also a lot of resentment that real estate has lost its value and prices of property are dropping.

A plume of smoke rises from the Besant Nagar crematorium. Residents demand steps to reduce the impact of the smoke and ash.

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