Open storage of phosphorous by Transworld causing problems: workers of nearby units

Prakash, a supervisor in a company in Baikampady Industrial Area, speaks softly. If he speaks louder, his throat pains. He has not attended work for 10 days now as he suffers from a dust allergy, which he alleges is from a neighbouring company, Transworld Frutichem Pvt Ltd., which processes rock phosphate. While his doctor told him to avoid his workplace if he wants to get better, the company insists its environs have nothing to do with it.

Srinivas Kamath, an entrepreneur whose company lies behind the phosphate company, also finds it difficult to swallow due to an allergy. Antibiotics have not helped him much, he said.

They are two of at least 10 to 15 persons who allege they have respiratory problems after inhaling dust from the company.

A number of industrial workers and owners of neighbouring units staged a demonstration against open storage and packing of phosphorous dust on Tuesday.

M.J. Shetty, president, Kanara Small Industries Association (KSIA), which led the protest march against the company on Tuesday in Baikampady, alleged that the company produces phosphorous pentoxide, a banned substance. More people, particularly arecanut packers, in the company’s vicinity, are affected but they continue working because it is their livelihood and due to ignorance of the effects of the substance, he said.

He appraised Deputy Commissioner N. Prakash about the problem, which gets very fine powdered rock phosphate from Egypt and packs it in Baikampady, but the issue remains unresolved.

KSPCB view

N. Lakshman, Environmental Officer, Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), said those who alleged they were allergic to the dust had no certificates to prove their, claim. He said, “If it is banned material, how Customs allowed the import?” He said there were no records to show the substance was banned.

A sample would be sent to a place such as NIT-K for analysis to find if it is phosphorous pentoxide.

Mr. Lakshman said, “Any dust particles that accumulate in lungs is dangerous. They should wear masks. The Labour Department and Inspector of Factories must check that… We can’t monitor every industry all the time.”

Dr. Mohan Pai, who treated Mr. Kamath, said industrial dust and fumes are a leading cause of problems in the hypersensitive nasal and bronchial lining, and that phosphorous and sulphur are highly acidic and highly irritating. He said, “They may not be carcinogenic but they lead to wheezing episodes and reduce a person’s productive capacity.”

Will cover phosphorus in a month: co.

Vinod Gadia, one of four directors of Transworld Frutichem Pvt Ltd., which processes phosphates in Baikampady, said the substance is not phosphorous pentoxide. He said people in Mangalore think it is hazardous but it is not so. He manufactures phosphate in Gandhidham, Kandla, and in Udaipur, Rajasthan but there is no health problem there. People are complaining here because “the environment in Mangalore is different”.

When asked why the workers had no masks, he said it was because Tuesday is a holiday for them. He said, “We have provided all safety measures (dust mask) but being labour class, they don’t use it." Asked about phosphorous kept in the open, he said he will get it covered in a month or two. He will take measures because of the complaints, he said.

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