May 10, 2005
Chennai, May 10: The air over a chemical industrial estate in Tamil Nadu’s Cuddalore town is “unfit to breathe” with 12 toxic gases, all of which can affect the eyes and 10 of which harm the respiratory and nervous systems, warns a report.
The study by the SIPCOT Area Community Environmental Monitors (SACEM) said at least seven of the 12 toxic gases released by factories in this special zone violated one or more US standards for safe air.
SIPCOT (State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu) is a government-owned site established in 1972 for the development of small, medium and large scale industries.
This is the second such study by the NGO, monitoring air quality in the government economic zone, 300 km south of Chennai.
The first report from the monitoring agency in September 2004 had found 22 toxic chemicals. The environment agency had then alerted the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) and directed it to develop standards for ambient air for the offending chemicals.
It also taken the government to court over the matter. A Supreme Court Monitoring Committee of Hazardous Waste set a June 30, 2005, deadline for the board to screen the air quality.
But, as the second study pointed out, the TNPCB is yet to take action.
SACEM said its second study found that five of the 12 hazardous chemicals at the SIPCOT complex could damage kidneys and liver; 10 were dangerous to the respiratory system and central nervous system; and all 12 could affect the eyes.
Demanding reports on steps taken by the TNPCB to monitor and reverse air pollution in Cuddalore, SACEM said action should be taken against the board if air pollution levels were not under control by June 2005 as per directions of the court.
SACEM representative S. Pugazhendi said:
There are no Indian standards for measuring air quality after chemicals are released. The TNPCB also does not have the technology to monitor air pollution.
The Supreme Court has said Indian industries should follow US standards until India has its own norms.