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Follow safety rules, tanneries told

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C. Rajendran, Collector of Vellore, speaking at the meeting at the Collectorate in Vellore on Tuesday.
C. Rajendran, Collector of Vellore, speaking at the meeting at the Collectorate in Vellore on Tuesday.

Special Correspondent

Collector holds meeting with them in the light of Vaniyambadi accident

VELLORE: Vellore Collector C. Rajendran has asked tanneries in Vellore district to strictly follow the safety protocol stipulated by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) while engaging its workers to clean effluent tanks on their premises. He said this at meetings with tannery owners of Ambur, Vaniyambadi and Pernambut convened by him on the premises of the Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) run by the Vaniyambadi Effluent Treatment Company Limited (VANITEC) in Vaniyambadi on Tuesday morning and with owners of tanneries in Ranipet and Melvisharam convened at the Collectorate here in the evening.

The meetings were held in the light of the accident in a tannery at Vaniyambadi on April 30 when five workers were asphyxiated, while cleaning an effluent tank.

Mohammed Ghani, Inspector of Factories, Vellore, said it was the duty of the tannery owners to take all precautionary measures to avoid accidents on their premises. In the case of the Vaniyambadi accident, he said that the management had allowed the workers to enter the effluent tank and manually clean it without following the stipulated safety measures despite knowing the dangers involved.

“We do not have the right to take the lives of others. So, it is absolutely essential to follow the safety measures,” he said. The effluent tanks should be cleaned only through mechanical means, and manual cleaning should be done only in unavoidable circumstances, after following all safety procedures. Workers should not be in an inebriated condition while entering an effluent tank, he said.

The Inspector of Factories said that licence-holders for the tanneries could not escape responsibility for accidents taking place at the tanneries even if they had leased the tannery to someone else. He asked the managements of tanneries to conduct awareness meetings for workers periodically to sensitise them to safety aspects of work in tanneries.

The Collector urged the tanneries in Ranipet to expedite the establishment of the reverse osmosis (RO) plants aimed at achieving zero discharge of effluents on war-footing.

C.M. Zafrullah, Managing Director, Ranipet Effluent Treatment Company Limited (RANITEC), said the tanneries in Ranipet were meeting all the norms of the TNPCB, except that of total dissolved solids (TDS). RANITEC was currently on the job of setting up an RO plant.

The RO plant for the tanneries in Melvisharam has been completed and would be commissioned shortly. A Special Purpose Vehicle is in charge of implementing six RO projects including the ones for Ranipet, Melvisharam, SIDCO Phase I, SIDCO Phase-II and Pallavaram. Once the RO is ready, the tanneries would purchase the treated water for re-use, provided the TDS was less than 500 parts per million (PPM). Once the RO is ready, the tanneries would not be extracting groundwater for their processes, but use the treated water itself, he said.

R. Amirthakatesan, Managing Director, Ranipet SIDCO Finished Leather Effluent Treatment Company Limited, said that out of the 86 tanneries connected to the SIDCO CETP, only 73 were functioning, while the rest were closed owing to reasons such as non-payment of treatment charges.

An RO plant is being constructed at SIDCO industrial estate at a total cost of Rs.29.8 crore. Of this, Rs.14.59 crore constituted Central government grant, and Rs.4.47 crore State government grant, with the remaining amount being contributed by the tanneries. The tanneries in SIDCO cleaned the effluent tanks mechanically, he said.

Gokuldas, District Environmental Engineer, TNPCB, Vellore, participated in the meeting.

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