11 Feb 2007
Liquid stagnates knee deep on four hectares of cashew farms
CUDDALORE: A tank storing molasses in a private company at Kadampuliyur near here burst on Friday night, spilling the liquid all over the factory premises and into nearby cashew farms.
The liquid covered the employees’ quarters inside the factory, displacing at least 15 families, who have been temporarily put up in a nearby marriage hall.
Chemplast Sanmar Ltd, which makes alcoholic spirit, put up a 3600-tonne-capacity tank in which it had stored 3,100 tonnes of molasses. The cause of the burst was yet to be established.
According to an initial assessment, the liquid was stagnating knee deep on four hectares of cashew farms, posing a threat to the crops, and to the groundwater. Since, the liquid had made the roads at Melmampattu slippery, at least 26 persons, including pedestrians and two-wheel riders, fell down and sustained minor injuries.
The villagers blocked traffic on Saturday for half-an-hour. Fire Service and Rescue personnel and the company employees were mopping up the liquid and spreading sand to make the roads traffic-worthy.
The loss suffered by the company was said to be Rs. 50 lakh.
On information, Collector Rajendra Ratnoo sent officials of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board and the Distilleries and Excise Departments to the spot to study the damage and the impact on crops and the environment.
According to Pollution Control Board sources, if allowed to stagnate, the liquid could spoil the groundwater.
Panruti MLA T.Velmurugan and Panruti panchayat union chairperson Ezhilarasi have urged the company give compensation to the cashew growers and the villagers.
Mr. Ratnoo held a meeting with officials and the company representatives, including vice-president K. Parthasarathy and manager R. Thirunavukkarasu.
Experts to study the impact
The Collector told The Hindu that agricultural experts would study the impact of the spillage on the crops and the soil. He directed the officials to look into the safety standards adopted by the company and fix the cause. He asked Revenue Divisional Officer Brinda Devi to submit a report.
The Collector assured the villagers who sustained injuries that their medical expenses would be taken care of.
The compensation to be given to cashew growers would be decided soon.
Company sources said the 20-year old factory, making industrial alcohol, had got all valid documents from the competent authorities.
It was looking at the incident from three angles: employees, villagers and the authorities. A technical assessment of the incident would be carried out soon after attending to social problems, if any, caused by the spillage.
The sources said the losses suffered by the company would run into lakhs of rupees. Though the company had other molasses storage tanks, it had temporarily suspended its operation.
After clearing the factory of the spillage, it would resume normal production either on Monday or Tuesday.
The sources said the company representatives held discussions with Collector on how to deal with the issues arisen out of the incident.