Tamil Nadu

Chromium waste remains a threat in Ranipet

Heaps of chromium-bearing waste lying on TCCL premises in Ranipet.

Heaps of chromium-bearing waste lying on TCCL premises in Ranipet.   | Photo Credit: C_VENKATACHALAPATHY

Water in five major waterbodies contaminated by the waste dumped in TNCCL unit

The exchange of letters and a long haul of protests have failed to draw attention of the authorities concerned to the problem of water contamination in Ranipet, which has now become a district headquarters.

Residents of Ranipet pointed out that the chromium-bearing waste lying on the open land on the premises of Tamil Nadu Chromate and Chemicals Ltd. at SIPCOT Industrial Complex has been contaminating groundwater in the 30-km radius. Promises by elected representatives and assurances from officials who visit the place whenever there are strong protests have become a routine affair.

Commissioned in 1976, the TCCL was involved in the production of sodium dichromate, basic chromium sulphate and sodium sulphate. It stopped its operations in 1995 and has been abandoned since then. An estimated 1.5 lakh tonnes of chromium-bearing waste remains at the site. This has rendered 600 acres of agricultural land barren, according to farmers associations.

According to a report submitted by Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board in 2016, the soil and the groundwater in the surroundings of the site have been contaminated with chromium. The waste pile-up occupies about two hectares of land. The Geological Survey of India had reported that hexavalent chromium contamination had spread in the southern direction up to a distance of 2-2.5 km. The report, titled ‘Predominant sources contributing to various pollutants’, mentions the chromium waste deposits as one of the main reasons, farmers say. “Twenty villages located around the factory site have been affected by the chromium effluents,” said L.C. Mani, a farmers' leader, from Lalapet. He said, “Five major lakes, including Thandalam and Manianpattu, have been contaminated to such an extent that the water cannot be used for any purpose.” Several representations were made to the Union and State government departments and agencies, but to no avail.

He added that in a reply to his petition submitted at farmers grievance meeting, TNPCB had replied that Central Pollution Control Board had made efforts to remove this mound of residue through National Clean Energy Fund. A consultant appointed by the CPCB had submitted an interim report. The TNPCB was monitoring the water pollution levels arising out of the mound.

It is clear that the Union and State governments should jointly bear the expenditure of the clean-up operation, Mr. Mani said.

Ranipet District Collector S. Divyadharshini said that both the CPCB and the TNPCB were working to find a solution as suggested by the report of the consultant. She said that the district administration was striving to reduce the level of contamination.

Political will is required to resolve this long-pending issue which has been causing hardship to the people of the area for several years, say members of Vellore Farmers Association.

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Printable version | Apr 4, 2020 4:31:43 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/chromium-waste-remains-a-threat-in-ranipet/article30898352.ece

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