A plywood manufacturing unit at Okkal, Perumbavoor, was forced to wind up its operations after an agitated crowd made a desperate attempt to lay siege to the local panchayat office.

The unit, Axon’s Plywood, was apparently functioning without necessary permits. The order to close down the unit came at the end of a day-long dharna in front of the panchayat office by the people of the residential area around the unit.

The Environment Protection Committee, which coordinated the agitation, had declared its intention to continue the stir overnight and occupy the premises if the panchayat failed to take any action against the polluting unit during the day.

The agitation was called off in the evening after the panchayat officials announced the decision.

The residents had been engaged in a confrontation against the polluting unit for over a year. Apart from the pollution caused during the manufacturing process, the people were agitated against the poor sanitation on the factory premises where migrant labourer had been lodged in poor sanitary conditions.

Dirty water was oozing out of the septic tank situated on the premises of the factory, contaminating the drinking water rivulet nearby and emitting foul smell. The tank had reportedly collapsed on Sunday, causing unbearable stench, according to the committee representatives.

The people had submitted petitions against the unit earlier, but no action had been taken.

The Health Department and an independent expert committee had submitted reports against the industrial unit, but the local panchayat, the designated authority to take action, had failed to initiate any measures.

Vexed issue

A number of plywood manufacturing units are located at Perumbavoor and pollution has been a vexed issue. Though the district administration has promised action to sort out the issue, concrete measures remain elusive.

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