Periyakuppam residents’ protest against fertiliser plant enters second day

They demand the permanent closure of Coromandel International Limited, which has been temporarily shut after ammonia leaked from the company’s pipeline earlier this week. So far, 55 people have been hospitalised

Published - December 28, 2023 10:18 pm IST - CHENNAI

Residents of Periyakuppam protesting outside Coromandel International Limited in Ennore on Wednesday.

Residents of Periyakuppam protesting outside Coromandel International Limited in Ennore on Wednesday. | Photo Credit: B. JOTHI RAMALINGAM

Residents of Periyakuppam and its surrounding villages in Ennore continued their protest on Thursday against Coromandel International Limited, which was temporarily shut after ammonia leaked from the company’s pipeline late on Tuesday, December 26.

The strong odour from the leak left people choking and forced them to evacuate in the middle of night. With 52 residents from Periyakuppam and Chinnakuppam already admitted to hospitals, three more were taken for a check-up on Thursday as they experienced throat irritation and giddiness.

The protestors demanded that the fertiliser unit be shut permanently. “We will sit here till they [government] close it,” a resident said. They said the company neither announced the leak to assuage their fears nor arranged for vehicles and ambulances. Ward 2 councillor S. Gomathi told The Hindu that she has requested Mayor R. Priya to urge the Chief Minister to shut the fertiliser factory.

Of the 46 admitted to a private hospital in Tiruvottiyur, most had been discharged. Around 11 elderly patients and those who had co-morbidities were to be kept under observation till December 29.

The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) had issued a notice to the unit to suspend operations of its offshore pipeline activity for precooling and ammonia transfer. Furthermore, a technical committee, comprising experts from TNPCB, CSIR-National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, and Central Leather Research Institute, has been formed to submit a detailed report in three days.

Residents form collective 

As many as 32 villages in Ennore came together to form a collective called ‘Ennore People’s Protection Group’ with the immediate aim of getting Coromandel International Limited closed permanently. The group will have one representative from each village besides social activists.

Several of these villages have planned to file petitions separately in the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to bolster their case against the unit, which, according to locals, has been constantly letting out toxic fumes.

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