Green Tribunal clamps down on Chemfab’s expansion

Southern Branch says there is prima facie evidence for issuing restraining order

The National Green Tribunal, Southern Bench, on Wednesday restrained Chemfab Alkalis Ltd., Kalapet, Puducherry, from carrying on any construction activity for expanding its production capacity and directed the Puducherry Pollution Control Committee to ensure that the unit not be operated without consent and clearances.

Passing an interim order on an application filed by the Puducherry Environment Protection Association, the Bench, comprising its judicial member Justice M. Chockalingam and its expert member R. Nagendran, said, “From the available materials and contentions put forth by counsel for the applicant, the Tribunal is satisfied that the applicant has made out a prima facie case for granting the interim order restraining the industry from carrying on construction for expanding the production capacity.”

In its application, NGO Puducherry Environment Protection Association, , whose members are residents of Kalapet, said Chemfab Alkalis established a caustic soda-manufacturing facility in the area in 1984 with an installed capacity of 6,500 tonnes per annum and gradually expanded its production.

The applicant alleged that Chemfab violated the consent order and produced caustic soda lye, chlorine, hydrogen and downstream products in excess of the permission and consent granted to it. The Town and Country Planning Department had failed to see that Chemfab violated its order and put up illegal constructions to expand its production capacity and at present, it was operating dangerously in an institutional area. Members of the association, children, family members and innocent villagers were affected by chlorine gas leak accident from the factory.

The Bench also directed the authorities in Puducherry and the factory to file their replies on the next hearing.

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