Court declines to stay public hearing

CHENNAI, MARCH 17. A Division Bench of the Madras High Court today declined to stay the public hearing slated for Friday at the Tiruvallur district Collectorate on the proposed hazardous landfill site at Gummidipoondi, north of Chennai.

The Bench, comprising Justice M. Karpagavinayagam and Justice C. Nagappan, however, admitted the public interest litigation petition filed by a 83-year-old freedom fighter, Y. Krishnam Raju, and posted the matter on Tuesday for the Government to file its counter-affidavit.

Mr. Raju contended that the public hearing had been scheduled to be held at the Tiruvallur Collectorate, 45 km from Gummidipoondi. "Residents who would be actually affected by the decision would not be in a position to travel to Tiruvallur in large numbers to participate in the hearing. The private company setting up the project had even taken some of the elected local body members in the area to Hyderabad and attempted to win their support for the project."

He prayed for a direction to postpone the proposed hearing and to hold it at a venue closer to the site. Meanwhile, in a letter to the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (with a copy to the Chief Minister) environmental activists have opposed the location of the hazardous waste facility over a groundwater-rich area in Gummidipoondi.

The proposal to set up a facility to bury and burn 36,000 tonnes of toxic wastes annually at Gummidipoondi, was located in an area rich in groundwater resources, they said, quoting the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI).

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