Mettur, 12 September 2012: Salem District Administration convened two peace committee meetings to defuse tension after farmers belonging to a left-leaning agricultural trade union threatened to go on protest against Chemplast’s pollution. The farmers union has alleged that pollution from Chemplast has damaged groundwater and affected people’s and livestock’s health, and harmed their livelihoods. They are demanding supply of adequate drinking water for them and for rearing cattle, medical facilities, compensation, livelihood opportunities and the formation of a local committee that will monitor Chemplast’s operations.
A first meeting with the Revenue Divisional Officer Mr. Suryaprakasham was unfruitful, as Chemplast reportedly refused to even resolve the drinking water issue. When the Union announced their decision to carry on with their strike, the District Collector Mr. Makarabhushanam intervened and called a meeting at 5.45 p.m. At the meeting, Chemplast claimed that it was indeed supplying 300,000 litres per day to three villages. However, village panchayat presidents and the chairman of the Nangavalli Panchayat Union refuted the claim and pointed out that the need for a formal agreement between Chemplast and the local bodies on supply of water.
The Collector directed his officers to inspect the pipelines to assess the quantum of water supplied by Chemplast, and the quantum received by water users. He assured that the matter of drinking water will be resolved. The matter of contamination of land and groundwater is to be taken up at a subsequent peace committee meeting on 25 September.