Work in the apparel park suspended following agitation by fishermen

Brandix India Apparel City (BIAC), the Indian arm of Brandix Lanka, resumed operations at its 1,000-acre apparel park at Atchutapuram, 60 km from here on Wednesday.

Work in the apparel park located in AP Special Economic Zone was suspended on Saturday, a day after agitating fishermen from three neighbouring villages laid siege to the main gate demanding compensation for polluting the sea and affecting the fish catch. They had sought a package on the lines of the one given to the fishermen of Pudimadaka, where a pipeline was laid by Brandix to discharge its ‘treated' effluents.

BIAC Director Vinu Sudan told The Hindu that they resumed functioning with full gear from morning shift and normality had been resorted at the project site. The stalemate over functioning of BIAC, which has provided jobs to nearly 16,000 people mainly belonging to the neighbourhood, was resolved after the intervention of Joint Collector M. Girija Shankar. He held a marathon session with the agitating people from Lovapalem, Venkaiahpalem and Gajareddypalem and promised to constitute an expert committee to go into the alleged pollution caused by BIAC, consider jobs to girls who had studied up to eight class and take up welfare measures by Brandix under corporate social responsibility.

The expert committee will also have representatives from the affected villages. The Brandix management stoutly denied the pollution charge. BIAC was inaugurated in May 2010 and developed on ‘fibre to store' concept.

It is expected to attract an investment of $1.2 billion and create jobs for 60,000 rural women within five years of operation. The company recorded an export turnover of Rs. 477 crore as on September 30, 2011.

HRF support

Meanwhile, Human Rights Forum (HRF) extended its support to demands of fisherfolk who are protesting against BIAC.

In a statement, HRF State general secretary V.S. Krishna said the fishermen's demand for a package was genuine on the grounds that their livelihoods were affected with the effluent let-out by the company into the sea behind Pudimadaka village.

Fisherfolk belonging to Lovapalem, Gajareddy Palem and Venkayya Palem are on protest mode for the past one month and subsequently they laid siege to the company for three days with none coming to heed their voices.

They are seeking employment in the company and compensation in line with the package the company agreed to, in the case of Pudimadaka villagers.

A four-member team from HRF visited the project affected villages and spoke to the agitators on Tuesday to find out the facts and realised that the demands of the agitating fisherfolk are genuine.