Demanding permanent closure of five charcoal production units located near Veeranampalayam village, a section of people from Veeranampalayam and 15 nearby hamlets staged a black flag protest and also put up black flags on the top of buildings on Wednesday.

A. Karthikeyan, organiser of the Struggle Committee formed of affected people from the hamlets of Veeranampalayam, Pallavarayanpalayam, Pudur and Bhagavathyapalayam, among a few others, told The Hindu that the smoke coming out of the units, while producing charcoal by burning coconut shells, had been polluting the environment and causing respiratory ailments to the people.

“Of the five units, four are temporarily closed and one is still running. But even the temporarily closed units can revive operations at any time,” he said.

When contacted, Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board District Environmental Engineer M. Malayandi told The Hindu that the Board’s district office had already sent a report to the head office recommending closure of the unit, which was running. “Subsequently, the National Green Tribunal committee visited the unit, and it is now up to the tribunal to take a final decision,” he said.

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