Took samples after workers said Transworld is packing harzardous substance

Ullas Shetty, an office-bearer of Karnataka Small Industries Association (KSIA), Baikampady, has said that it will soon be known whether a substance packaged by a Baikampady company is hazardous to the health. Mr. Shetty is KSIA’s point man for issues relating to Karnataka Small Scale Industries Development Corporation (KSSIDC) and Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board (KIADB) infrastructure. A sample of the substance had been sent for testing to the National Institute for Technology-Karnataka. The results of the test will be available by Thursday, he said.

The substance from Transworld Furtichem Pvt Ltd., which stores phosphates in Baikampady, was sent for testing after some people working in the vicinity of the company complained of health problems.

Last month, people from the industrial area had participated in a protest march against the company led by M.J. Shetty, President, KSIA. At least two persons working in Baikampady then said they think the phosphate caused them health problems.

On Wednesday, industry persons in Baikampady said the company continues to store phosphates in the open and has made no change in the way it stores the substance. B. A. Nazeer, President, Kanara Small Industries Association (KSIA), said that a representative of the company had attended a meeting of the association held a week ago and had said the stored phosphates would be covered. He said, “He has not done anything so far.”

Mr. Shetty said the company has now dumped the phosphate in one more location outside its factory.

He said a decision would be taken on how to proceed on the issue once the test results are made. In October, the phosphate was in small heaps in the company’s compound. On Tuesday, the phosphate covered more area.

Company’s response

Vinod Gadia, one of the four directors of Transworld Furtichem Pvt Ltd., which processes the phosphates in Baikampady, said, “There is no dust now. It is completely moisurised. Only in summer, when it is windy, (it tends to blow).” He said it will take time to cover the stores as it is 50,000 feet high and requires an investment of Rs. 1.5 crore to Rs. 2 crore. After the dry season, when the next consignment arrives, the phosphate would be covered.

He said one had to distinguish between a substance that was dust-like (fine in texture) and one that is hazardous. He said, “I don’t know where people are getting the idea that it is hazardous. Hazardous is one issue and dust (from the substance) is another issue. Rock phosphate is not hazardous”.

Mr. Gadia said the fertilisers made from phosphates are natural and eco-friendly and that Rajasthan has open-pit mining done for phosphates.

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