Residents mulling over poll boycott to highlight their plight

Faced with air and water pollution caused by the Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation’s Modern Rice Mill at Adavathur in the outskirts of the city, residents in and around the mill are mulling over the option of boycotting the Lok Sabha election unless remedial measures are initiated. With rice husk being used as fuel for boiling paddy at the rice mill, the soot from the chimney settle down on households in the vicinity of the mill. Residents in Muthu Plots, a developing residential colony, are the worst hit though residents in nearby Balaji Nagar and Sakthi Nagar also face the problem. “The black soot from the chimney spreads by the air and settles down on our households. We cannot keep our windows open and even riding a two-wheeler or walking around the open is difficult as the soot and the burnt husk gets into our eyes causing irritation,” says B.Ravikumar, president, Muthu Plots Residents Welfare Association.

A layer of soot could be seen accumulated on the roof tops of many houses. “We cannot keep our food open even for a short time. Even the clothes dried in the open get a layer of soot over them within a couple of hours,” says Vallikannu, a resident. Govindarajan, another resident, says that residents were facing breathing difficulties due to the problem. “We cannot rest outside the house or sleep in our terraces,” he says.

The effluent discharge from the mill also stagnates behind the mill and the adjacent godown. Residents alleged that the effluent often overflows into the colony during the monsoon and the quality of groundwater in the locality has been affected.

“We have represented the matter to the TNCSC several times. Every time, the officials promise to set right the problem within a few months. But no permanent solution has been found so far,” says Mr.Ravikumar. The association, he says, is contemplating boycotting the election and a decision will be taken after a meeting soon.

A senior officer of the TNCSC, when contacted, said an effluent treatment plant is planned to be set up soon at the mill and tenders for the same would be called after the election. However, the effluent did not contain any chemicals and was essentially water used for boiling paddy. A portion of the effluent is also pumped back to water the trees in the mill.

Measures, including regular cleaning of chimney, have been taken to check the emission of fine dust. “The problem has been curtailed to a large extent in recent days. We are also planning to raise trees around the mill by getting saplings from the Forest Department to check air pollution,” he said.