Mettur, 31 October 2009 – Around 30 villagers from Green Park area in Thangamapuripattinam village in Mettur gathered yesterday at 12 noon and blocked the Mettur-Bhavani link road to protest the arrival of coal in the new coal yard owned by Chemplast Sanmar in their area. The villagers cited intense air pollution, unchecked by Government authorities, from an existing coal yard owned by MALCO in RS as reason for opposing the new coal yard by Chemplast Sanmar.
The villagers managed to voice their dissent to the coal yard by blocking the road for 20 minutes before they were removed from the spot by police from Karumalaikudal Police station. Around 20 of the villagers including women were transported in an open truck to the station. No FIR was filed against the villagers. At 6.30 p.m., the villagers were released after two persons provided surety for every single person to be released.
The coal landed in Mettur RS at 1.30 a.m. this morning and was stocked up in the yard.
“According to a mutual agreement, dated 07.11.07, between the villagers and the company, mediated by the Revenue Divisional Officer, Chemplast had agreed to plant trees surrounding the yard and to cover the entire yard so that the amount of coal dust flying out in the air will be reduced. However, both these conditions are unfulfilled by the company.” Says Ganeshan of Thangamapuripattinam.
This controversial coal yard was constructed by Chemplast Sanmar in early 2008 without the necessary consent by Tamilnadu Pollution Control Board. In two responses, dated 02.06.08 and 17.10.08, to a Right to Information request, the Tamilnadu Pollution Control Board has stated that Chemplast Sanmar did not have Consent to Establish from the Tamilnadu Pollution Control Board. The same document also revealed that coal yards and coal storage facilities require Consent to Establish and Consent to Operate from the Board. Inspite of bringing this illegality to the notice of the Board in several complaints dated 24.03.08, 11.07.09 and 08.10.09, the Board went on to issue a consent to Operate on 13.10.09 without taking any action on the company for violating the law.