Special Correspondent

Doctors, environmentalists attend public hearing

  • No health problems registered in Dandeli in 35 years: doctors
  • Call to employ local people in skilled and semi-skilled jobs

    MANGALORE: The expansion plans of the West Coast Paper Mills (WCPM) of Dandeli in Uttara Kannada district have been welcomed at the public hearing in Dandeli recently.

    One of the oldest paper mills in the country, the WCPM plans to expand at Rs. 1,100 crore during the next two years. The WCPM held a public hearing prior to commencement of expansion work. The hearing was chaired by Deputy Commissioner of Uttara Kannada district, Rithesh Kumar Singh. It was attended by doctors, environmentalists, social leaders and union activists.

    Doctors from the city, N.G. Byakod, G.V. Bhat and S.L. Karki, said that no health problems, particularly those affecting the renal system as alleged by some environmentalists, were registered in Dandeli in the last 35 years.

    Green India's coordinator Mahendra Kumar said that prior to WCPM's arrangement to supply drinking water to nearby villages, the residents were using the water let out by the factory. This had not affected their health or that of their animals and hence there could be no water pollution.

    Environmentalist from Bangalore Environment Support Group Leo Saldanha wanted clarification about the excess production from the mill. Environmentalist Ananth Hegde Asisar welcomed the project and suggested appointment of a committee to monitor factory activities taken up by the State Pollution Control Board. There were also demands for employing local people in skilled and semi-skilled jobs.

    WCPM executive director K.L. Chandak said the expansion would bring in investments into the area. The plans included co-generation of power from 40.3 MW to 70 MW. Provision for club farming, wasteland development and employment for unskilled labourers were also on the cards.