Cuddalore, April 17, 2008: The Public Works Department (PWD) has cancelled the permission granted to Chemplast Sanmar’s PVC Plant at SIPCOT Cuddalore for laying a pipeline to convey Vinyl Chloride Monomer (VCM) across Uppanar River. The permission was cancelled in March 2008 after the department learnt that VCM was a toxic chemical capable of causing environmental pollution and health hazards to the people in the vicinity. The PWD also stated that they would consider this application only after the industry obtained the necessary clearance from the Pollution Control Board and other concerned departments. The PWD had earlier in February 2008 granted permission for Chemplast Sanmar to transport sea water and VCM raw materials across Uppanar River through pipelines buried 3.50 meters below the river bed.
The construction of this PVC Plant at SIPCOT has been a subject of controversy even before its construction began two years ago. In 2005, Chemplast Sanmar had obtained the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance for a marine terminal facility for receiving and transferring VCM, whereas it failed to obtain the CRZ clearance for its desalination plant, and for the sections of the sea water intake pipeline, sea water storage and disposal tanks all of which fall in the CRZ area adjacent to the tidal river Uppanar. Bypassing the State, Chemplast later applied for CRZ clearance from the Ministry of Environment. The application was rejected on the basis that the company did not have any clearance or recommendation from the State Coastal Zone Management Authority.
The Coastal Regulation Zone mandates that the company obtain recommendation from the State Coastal Zone Management Authority and clearance from the Ministry of Environment before laying pipelines across any tidal river likely to invoke the CRZ notification.
Chemplast has approached the Madras High Court seeking to nullify the PWD’s revocation. The matter is pending in court.