The people of Kochuveli are up in arms against “a slow attempt to reclaim a wetland by a private hand with the help of a private factory” and pollution of the groundwater in the region.” The issue has reached the district administration, with District Collector K.N. Satheesh seeking a report. The factory officials have denied any role in the incident.

Residents’ charge

Residents of the area surrounding the English Indian Clays Limited (EICL) near the Kochuveli railway station allege that the firm has been dumping clay waste into the adjacent wetland area, which has a large number of coconut trees as well, and in the process, is slowly reclaiming the low-lying plot, which the firm had taken on lease from the government.

According to P.S. Prakash, a resident of the area, the dumping of the waste was stopped after the Collector issued an order last week. However, there was no move from the village authorities to stop dumping permanently.

“The issue is not just the reclaiming of a wetland. The dumped waste has a lot of chemical content. This, over time, has seeped into the groundwater and now, the water in our wells has begun tasting odd,” Mr. Prakash alleged. The Tipper Taxi Thozhilali Union Congress (INTUC) in the area had submitted a complaint to the Collector on September 17, following which the village officer issued a stop memo to the company.

Factory’s version

According to EICL officials, the company began dumping clay waste into the nearby plot to fill it following a request from one of the owners of the land. The dumping was stopped after the memo from the village office, which pointed out that the filling of that plot was unauthorised.

“We would like to clarify that the clay waste has no chemical content. The only chemical used is hydrosulphite for whitening of the clay after separating it from what we dispose of as waste. So the chemical does not go out,” a company official said.