Special Correspondent

PMK's plea for high-level committee granted

  • Effluents let into Uppanar endanger marine life: PMK whip
  • Environment Minister promises to visit the area

    CHENNAI: The State Government on Wednesday promised to take steps to protect the environment in and around the SIPCOT industrial complex in Cuddalore.

    Responding to Pattali Makkal Katchi whip T. Velmurugan's plea for appointing a high-level committee to go into issues relating to the pollution caused by chemical industries in the complex, Environment Minister T.P.M. Mohideen Khan said the Government would concede the demand.

    Mr. Velmurugan said the release of untreated effluents into the Uppanar flowing in the area endangered the marine life, besides causing serious health problems to the people.

    The locals had launched agitations. Official committees and non-governmental organisations, which had gone into the issue right from 1993, had stressed the need for pollution control. A study conducted by California University experts had come out with facts about the extent of pollution caused by these industries, he said.

    Special mention

    Replying to the special mention by PMK Members, Mr. Khan said that along with officials, he would visit the area to study the situation after this Assembly session ended.

    Mr. Khan said the SIPCOT complex, established in 1984, had 13 factories out of 21 units, which had effluent treatment plants. Before January 2000, they had been releasing untreated effluents through the SIPCOT drainage canal, besides releasing them into the Uppanar and the gardens on the factory premises. They also adopted vaporisation strategy.

    After complaints that the quality of the groundwater was affected, treated effluents were released into the sea at a distance of one km from the shores, as per the advice given by the National Institute of Oceanography in Goa, he said.

    Continuous monitoring

    However, on July 20 last year, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board ordered closure of a dyeing unit and stopping of power supply to it for release of effluents over and above the prescribed quantity. The orders were temporarily withdrawn on October 10 and fully withdrawn on December 11. Inspections of the effluents released by the unit on March 27 showed that the `biological oxygen demand' and `chemical oxygen demand' had crossed the prescribed standards. The factory had been asked to meet the standards by June 30, he said. The Board was continuously monitoring the situation.

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