The State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has ordered that the District Environmental Engineer (DEE), Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), Ambattur, and the RDO, Ponneri, should appear before the commission on July 16 in connection with a case relating to the contamination of groundwater by oil in West Mogappair here.

They should file separate reports. The reports should also contain the latest developments in detail. The Commission Chairperson, Justice A.S.Venkatachalamoorthy, had earlier taken suo motu cognisance of press reports about the contamination published on June 21. He had ordered that the Chairman, TNPCB, Commissioner, Chennai Corporation and the District Collector, Chennai, to send a reply to the various averments in the news items.

Accordingly, the TNPCB Chairman and the Collector in charge and DRO, Tiruvallur district filed reports. As summoned, the DEE, R.Ramasubbu and the board's Assistant Engineer, Ambattur, K.Udayakumar, appeared before the Commission on July 2. The Commission pointed out to the officials as to how the site plan was not clear. There were some conflicts in the reports of the TNPCB and the District Collector. The matter was posted for July 6.

In its interim order, Mr.Justice Venkatachalamoorthy said none of the officials of TNPCB appeared before the Commission on that date. The Commission waited for two more days, but there was no representation. “This is unfortunate.” In these circumstances, the Commission was of the view that the Chairman, TNPCB, should be called upon to file a report as to why there was default by the board officials to appear before the Commission. The report should be filed within 10 days.

The Commission said the DEE should file a fresh site plan indicating all relevant features clearly. The Collector in his report had said the RDO, Ponneri, inspected the area and found that in certain houses also the well water was found to be mixed with petrol. But nothing has been mentioned by the pollution control board with regard to these houses. The Commission directed the DEE and the RDO to make a joint inspection and submit a report.

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