There was a vertical division at a public hearing here on Tuesday over the establishment of a paint and copolymer plant by JSW Group at Musinayakanahalli in Sandur taluk of the district, with people expressing themselves for and against it.
The public hearing was organised by the regional office of the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board in Ballari. People from various villages, including Torangal, Kuditini, Vaddu, Basapur and Sultanpur, participated. Vijay Mahantesh Danammanavar, Additional Deputy Commissioner, presided over it.
A new plant to produce two lakh litres per annum of water-based paints and 40,000 tonnes per annum of emulsion copolymer has been proposed by the JSW Group. After the power point presentation on the highlights of the plant and also over the steps proposed to be taken to protect environment and ecology, one group, most of whom are working as contractors for JSW Steels, was in favour of establishment of the plant, while another group, comprising representatives of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Centre of Indian Trade Unions and other social organisations, opposed it.
Kamesh, advocate, J.M. Channabasaiah of CITU, V.S. Shivashankar, district president of the Karnataka Prantha Raitha Sangha, B. Polaiah, among others, opposed the plant coming up apprehending that it would affect environment, ecology and public health.
They also accused the JSW Group of getting a coal tar plant established and also starting production despite the opposition from the public.
“JSW Group has deprived the locals of employment as it preferred to get workers from other States. Moreover, the plant proposed was hazardous and posed a threat to public life, environment and bio-diversity. Therefore, the plant should not be permitted,” they said. They also made it clear that they were not opposed to industrialisation but were only against hazardous industries producing paint and coal tar.
Those who favoured, including Benchi Shankar, Abdul, Shabbir Sab, Guruswamy, K.M. Mullah, among others, said that the establishment of the new plant would help generate employment opportunities for unemployed local youths and also contribute to the development of the district. “The authorities concerned should strictly monitor to ensure that the plant management takes all necessary steps to prevent pollution of all kinds as apprehended by a section of the people. If the plant proposed really caused pollution, then we will also launch a movement demanding closure of such a plant,” they said.
Summing up the hearing, Mr. Danammanavar said that the entire proceedings of the public hearing was videographed and the unedited copy, with transcripts in Kannada and English, would be forwarded to the Ministry for Environment and Forests to take a final decision in the matter.