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Pharma major's Cuddalore unit under NGT glare

7th August 2017

By Express News Service

CHENNAI: Pharmaceutical major Strides Shasun, which has secured the US Food and Drug Administrationís approval for its three plants in Puducherry and Cuddalore, is facing trouble. The southern bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) recently directed the District Environment Engineer to inspect the firm's plant in Cuddalore and initiate closure proceedings, if it is found functioning without the mandatory consent to operate from the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board.

The NGT bench headed by Justice M S Nambiar passed the order on July 27. As per the norms, any manufacturing industry has to obtain consent to operate from the Pollution Control Board under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.

"The DEE is directed to inspect Strides Shasun industry and if the industry is operating without the required consent to establish and operate, steps shall be immediately taken to close the industry," the bench said in the order.

The petition was filed by R Kothandaraman, president, Puducherry Environment Protection Association. He alleged that Strides Shasun was a habitual violator of environmental laws and admittedly obtained environmental clearance from the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) albeit without jurisdiction, since the industry is located in a notified critically polluted area.

The petitioner said the firm's consent to operate expired in March, 2016 and since then has been operating without valid consent, which is a punishable offence. Kothandaraman said though the NGT has directed the Cuddalore DEE to initiate closure proceedings about two week ago, the official has taken no action.

"I have personally met DEE Rama Subba a few days ago and handed over the certified copy of the order requesting him to honour the order of the tribunal, but he chose to ignore it. My counsel has also sent him the official correspondence. TNPCB counsel Yasmeen Ali was present before the tribunal when the orders were passed. This shows the DEE was willfully allowing the illegal operation of the industry," Kothandaraman alleged, adding he would be filing the contempt petition on Monday.

When contacted, DEE Rama Subba refused to take any questions pertaining to the operations of Strides Shasun. The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board rejected the application for consent to operate submitted by the industry on November 07, 2016. The petitioner alleged that the industry is operating the plant and discharging waste without authorisation under the Hazardous Waste Management Rules as well.

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