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Letter from Adv. T. Mohan, Chairman of the Cuddalore Local Area Environment Committee to Chairperson, Tamilnadu Pollution Control Board

25th April 2005
L. No. 89-04/05

The Chairperson 
Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board
Chennai - 600 032.

Dear Ms.Vaidyanathan,

I visited the SIPCOT Industrial Estate, Cuddalore on 21st and 22nd April 2005. On 22nd April 2005, along with the District Environmental Engineer (DEE) and members of the LAEC, I visited Tagros, Victory Chemicals, CUSECS6, TANFAC and Shasun Drugs and Chemicals Ltd.

On my night visit to the estate on 21st April 2005, I was assailed by a cocktail of malodours. It is clear that these industries are yet to address the odour problem effectively.

  1. My visit to Victory Chemicals left me entirely frustrated at the lack of progress. Their house keeping is of the poorest order and the hazardous waste from the factory lies not only strewn around but is also piled in a mound at the rear end of the facility, while the Company claims that the bottom of the dump/ mound is a lined one, I am not sure whether this is true and even if so whether the run off can be addressed by the bottom lining with no containment on the sides.

    Alongside the compound wall, there is a storm water drain which from its coloration and location clearly collects run off from the hazardous waste site. Please have the DEE draw samples from the drain and issue a show cause notice to the unit for closure.

  2. As far as Tagros is concerned the unit claims to be producing 360 metric tonnes of product a year and has sought clearance for expansion which application has been forwarded to the MoEF.

    We have received complaints that the unit has expanded production without clearance from the MoEF/ consent from you. I understand that the unit had originally denied these reports. Even at the last LAEC meeting held on 01/04/05, we had asked the DEE to conduct further investigation in the matter. We now understand that the unit has now "confessed" to have expanded without clearance/consent. I have handed over to the DEE photocopies of the Company's annual report which prove that the unit has been producing more than the approved quantity even in the year 2000-2001 and had steadily expanded both the installed capacity and actual production.

  3. It is clear that the unit has confirmed its transgression of the law after it was made clear at the last LAEC meeting that we had documentary proof of the expansion without permission.

    This state of affairs is unfortunate, to say the least. Industries must respect pollution control and environmental law and not deal with institutions and laws as something merely to be tolerated.

    Please address the MoEF to reject Tagros' clearance application as the same is false in material particulars. The Board should prosecute the Company and its Directors (past and present) for operating at a capacity in excess of what was permitted. The MoEF and the State Government may be requested to prosecute the unit and its Directors for violation of the Environmental Impact Assessment Notification S.O.60[E] dated 27/01/1994. Could you please direct the D.E.E to send us copies of the correspondence between Tagros and the Board in this regard, especially the letters from Tagros dated 22/03/05 and 07/04/05. We also need to place on record in the Supreme Court in W.P.(Civil) No.460/04, the fact that Tagros has violated the EIA Notification. A copy of the Tagros' letter dated 07/04/05 may be sent to the SCMC also.

  4. As regards TANFAC we saw HF waste lying in the open as well as gypsum waste. During my night visit around the precincts, I noticed that the waste was being loaded onto trucks and there was lot of particulate matter flying around.

    I am also concerned about the HF waste polluting ground water. The D.E.E informed me that ground water samples had been drawn in close proximity to the dumpsite.

    I would recommended that samples be drawn again in the presence of the LAEC. As for the present condition of the HF waste, it has to be addressed urgently.

  5. On my visit to Shasun, I did notice persist odour especially near the mercaptan incineration.I however did not have enough time to do justice to my visit and I hope to redress that in the near future.

Over all, my assessment is that a lot of work needs to be done to redress the grievances of the communities living around the plant and this itself is a huge task. At the last LAEC meeting, we had articulated concern over this and directed that all applications for establishment / operation/ renewal/ expansion be refused to the LAEC.

However, to our consternation we learn that a new unit has been accorded consent to establish as also MoEF clearance viz Shasank Chemicals and Drugs Pvt. Ltd. Please forward necessary papers to the LAEC and intimate the applicant that the matter is being looked into by the LAEC. I am also concerned that in spite of the SHRC report, the NEERI report and the IPT report recommending no new industries in Cuddalore, plans are afoot for a textile park in Cuddalore.

We also learn that phase II of SIPCOT is generating interest hitherto dormant. We are concerned about these developments. As resolved at the last LAEC, please refer all applications for expansion/ establishment/ operation/ renewal to the LAEC. Please let us know if the TNPCB has taken any policy decision on locating the new industries in Phase I / Phase II/ Phase III of SIPCOT and whether it has corresponded with the State / Central Government in this regard. I enclose representations from villagers and a SACEM member against new industries in SIPCOT.

Another issue which troubles the LAEC is the grim drinking water situation. Ground water contamination has rendered the water unpotable. Industries must be saddled with the responsibility of paying for supply of drinking water to the villages around SIPCOT. SIPCOT may be asked to provide an estimate of the costs of ensuring piped water supply to the villages both capital and operational and we may address industries on paying these costs.

The Board has furnished us a filled up questionnaire giving us details of 6 industries as well as some shutdown industries. I have referred the report to an independent researcher, whose comments I enclose. He points out that the ROA reveals effluent parameters exceeding threshold standards by any extremely high degree.

Please let us know what steps have been taken in respect of this situation.

Yours sincerely,
(T.MOHAN)

   
   
   
   
   
   
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