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Fly ash affects salt quality: producers

Praveen Paul Joseph
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Chimney high enough, says power plant

POLLUTION: A salt unit at Ayyanarpuram near Tuticorin. — Photo : N. Rajesh
POLLUTION: A salt unit at Ayyanarpuram near Tuticorin. — Photo : N. Rajesh

Though presence of industries and power plants are a sign of development in Tuticorin, small-scale salt manufacturers are not a happy lot since they allege that either smoke or fly ash that billows through a chimney from a 126-MW private power plant being established at Pudurpandiapuram village gets deposited on the salt thus affecting its quality.

Salt is being manufactured in an area of 400 acres at Keezharasadi of Ottapidaram taluk and in Ayyanarpuram and Tharuvaikulam areas.  A.R.A.S. Dhanabalan, secretary, Tuticorin Small Scale Salt Manufacturers' Association told The Hindu here on Friday that fly ash was also affecting the health of workers at the saltpans since they had to inhale it.

He said that the problem was persisting since May and the authorities had not shown any concern towards it. “During May and June, the windy season, the finished products get easily affected by dust particles which turn the actual colour into a dull one. It results in poor market value for the salt,” he said. The height of the chimney should have been increased. 

Pollution Control Board sources ruled out any possibility of dust or fly ash being deposited on salt. “The company is importing coal which has only 9 per cent ash content and it will not cause pollution through smoke.

Moreover, the project site is far away from the salt pans. Salt in nature was hydroscopic and easily absorbs dust. We've been monitoring the situation and there is no written complaint from the affected parties yet,” the sources added.

  R. Mayilvel, Vice-President (Technology) of the power plant said that the chimney had been set up at a height of 140 metres to blow ash high in the air and ruled out any chance of the dust getting deposited.

 The plant was installing a modern electrostatic precipitator so as to absorb smoke.

“Even the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board instructed us to set up the chimney at a height of 120 meters, but we installed it still 20 metres higher to be on the safer side. Following clearance given by the Ministry of Environment and Forest, the power plant was being established as per rules and regulations, he said.

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