Concern over fast deteriorating ecology

Special Correspondent

Climate change is threatening the very existence

India becomes dump yard for wastes of developed countries

SALEM: Environmentalists, social workers and like-minded people have called for a sustained development, which they pointed out should not be at the cost of environment, people and their livelihood resources.

In the day-long consultation on ‘Environmental issues in Salem district’, organised by the Tamil Nadu Environment Council (TNEC), Environmental Lawyers Forum (ELF) and Environmental Scientists Forum (ESF) here on Sunday, representatives from various fora voiced grave concern over the fast deteriorating ecology particularly in Salem district, which was known for its fragile environment.

Mr. A. Renganathan, West Zone Convener of TNEC and Director of Village Reconstruction and Development Project (VRDP) in his address said that Salem district was facing a number of environmental problems, which had started affecting the common people especially children, women, dalits, tribals and agricultural labourers.

He further said that the people were unable to understand the complexity of the pollution caused by the industries. They are also facing increasing problem in procuring the information as there was a wide gap between the environmentally-affected masses and the scientists and lawyers and hence the ELF and ESF have been formed to fill in the gap, he said.

L. Antonysamy, the State Convener of TNEC in his presidential address said the world was facing serious environmental problems and climate change was threatening the very existence. Industrial development is not aimed at the development of the people. Instead of making the people to progress, it is appropriating their livelihood resources like land, forest, water resources. India is becoming a waste land for chemical wastes of the developed countries. He called upon the people to be aware of these issues and asked lawyers, scientists, doctors and academic community to join hands with the people to ensure good environment.

Mr. Asokan of ELF said that water was considered as a common resource for all the people. But it is no longer so as it has become a commodity. Poor were finding it difficult to have access to potable water. Adding to their woes, water pollution was making it worse. Rengarajan of Salem Government Arts College said that any industry, which was appropriating people’s livelihood resources should not be allowed to function. Cauvery River was carrying the industrial and domestic wastes starting from Mysore. These wastes reach Tiruvarur in the Delta area thus affecting the water quality and agriculture. Veerapandi in Salem district was highly polluted. He insisted that mines without proper permission should be closed.

Reader, Department of Geology, Periyar University Venkatachalapathy, pointed out that waste discharge was taking place in an irresponsible manner at all levels especially from the industries. Later representatives from women organisations and farmers organisations, consumer organisations shared their experiences. They claimed that chemical industries, dyeing units, cement, sago and mining had completely destructed the livelihood resources. Hills were denuded of forests.

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