Public hearing draws a mixed response

A resident of Kallakudi voicing her protest against the limestone mine expansion plan of Dalmiya Cement (Bharat) at a public hearing held near Kallakudi on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: A_MURALITHARAN

Residents, farmers and environmental activists from Kallakudi, Kovandakurichi and neighbouring areas registered their strong opposition to the proposed expansion of limestone mines of Dalmia Cement (Bharat) during a public hearing at Venkatachalapuram near Pullampadi on Tuesday.

The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPB) organised the public hearing on the proposed expansion of limestone mines at Kallakudi and Kovandakurichi to increase the production from 0.05 million tonnes to 0.75 million tonnes per annum.

The public hearing was presided over by Collector K. Rajamani and was attended by over 500 people. Soon after the meeting began, a group of about 100 persons, mostly from Kallakudi and Kovandakurichi, attempted to stage a road roko on the Tiruchi-Dalmiapuram road by claiming that they were denied entry into the public hearing venue. However, the police and officials acted swiftly, pacified the protesters and took them to the venue. They then expressed their views one after another. While a section of people welcomed the proposal, several others strongly objected to it.

“I am unable to sleep properly at night due to non-stop mining operations and transportation of limestone. The borewell dug up at a cost of ₹75,000 in my house has failed due to deep excavation of limestone. The expansion plan will further deplete the groundwater table and also cripple farming activities,” said Dennis Marry of Kallakudi.

A. Poulraj of Vadugarpettai alleged that several residents of Kallakudi and neighbouring areas were suffering from asthma and other respiratory diseases due to air and water pollution caused by the cement factory.

Limestone mining for the last several decades had caused extensive damage to the environment and livelihood of several villages, he said.

Stating that she was suffering from the ill-effects of mining and cement production, Shantha, another resident of Vadugarpettai, said that she had been fighting for the last 17 years to save herself and other residents from the high level of dust and air pollution. The state government should not permit the expansion plan, she insisted.

A representative of Dalmia Cement said top priority was being given to ensure various parameters of pollution control norms were being followed. The expansion plan would not affect the environment, groundwater and livelihood, he said and added that over 4,600 persons would get direct and indirect employment under the expansion plan.

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2021 9:17:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/public-hearing-draws-a-mixed-response/article19211831.ece

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