HYDERABAD: Multinational giant Piramal Enterprises’ plan to expand its pharmaceutical manufacturing unit with a Rs 250 crore investment in Telangana seems to be in jeopardy. Citing pollution issues, the people have been opposing the project for a while now.
The 51-page minutes of meeting of Public Hearing on the expansion, submitted by Telangana State Pollution Control Board (TSPCB) to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), is filled with submissions by people on how the pharmaceutical major -- at Digwal village of Kohir mandal in Sangareddy district -- has rendered the soil, groundwater and air completely polluted over last three decades.
Around half of the submissions by 69 people who spoke at the meeting held on October 4, clearly point out that they are opposed to expansion of Piramal’s pharmaceutical manufacturing unit. Remaining villagers supported expansion of the unit on the condition that the locals are guaranteed employment by the company.
During the hearing of the 74 ‘representations’ by villagers, almost 60 were in favour of expansion. However, as many as 498 villagers from Kohir, Digwal and surrounding villages, who did not get to speak during the hearing, submitted representations later, opposing the expansion of the manufacturing unit at Digwal. The Public Hearing forms an important part of the process of obtaining Environmental Clearance from the MoEF for expansion of the unit.
As per the minutes of meeting, most of the villagers submitted at the public hearing that agriculture took a serious hit due to groundwater pollution caused by the company, affecting livelihood of many people. They also complained of the company not paying any compensation for the crop loss.
Another major issue raised by almost everyone at the hearing, including those in support of the expansion, was the failure of the company, which has control over 79 acres of land where it plans to expand its production capacity from 363TPM to 505TPM, to create job opportunities for the locals.
Many speakers pointed out that while the company provided villagers from Digwal and nearby villages with low-paying and odd jobs like sweepers, cleaners or drivers, high-paying jobs were given to non-locals.
When asked regarding the complaints, a representative from Piramal Enterprises present at the Public Hearing said that all measures are in place for keeping the pollution under control and even for the upcoming unit measures like Zero Liquid Discharge will be put in place.
He also claimed that about 350 people from Digwal and surrounding villages have been employed by the company.