Hundreds of students and residents formed a human chain against cargo handling at Chennai port

For several decades now, residents of Royapuram and its neighbourhood have been suffering the impact of inhaling iron ore and coal dust.

While Chennai port has stopped handling dusty cargo following a Madras High Court order, residents, who are fighting a legal battle, want the facility to be permanently shifted to Ennore port.

On Friday, hundreds of students and residents formed a human chain, demanding that such cargo must not be allowed to be handled at Chennai port, which is surrounded by residential localities.

Members of the Royapuram Residents’ Welfare Association said, people living in areas such as Kaladipet and Ernavur were also affected by the dust particles in the air.

E. Earnest Paul, working president of the Royapuram Residents’ Welfare Association said, “We have to keep our doors and windows shut. Otherwise, the dust would settle everywhere. After Chennai port suspended handling of cargo, the problem has decreased.”

Most localities are within a radius of one km. Chennai port has again moved the Supreme Court to handle such cargo. If allowed, it would affect the environment and residents’ health, he said.

Residents complained that though the Port authorities had assured them that saplings would be planted to reduce pollution, nothing has been done so far.

Mr. Paul said that unlike Chennai port where people live in the vicinity, the nearest residential locality is four-five km away from Ennore port. The Association members plan to hold demonstrations next week to stress the need to shift the handling of iron ore and coal cargos from Chennai port.

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