HYDERABAD: A report commissioned by Swedish financial services group Nordea on pharmaceutical pollution crisis in Hyderabad has raised doubts if even the well-known pharmaceutical companies operating in Hyderabad are following pollution control measures. It comes at a time when environment ministry is considering Hyderabad Pharma City project proposed over 19,633 acres for Clearance.
Changing Markets Foundation, an NGO that was commissioned by Nordea for the study, collected samples of polluted water accumulated adjacent to manufacturing units and seeping from them. The units were of the pharmaceutical companies Mylan, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories and three others. Samples were also collected from the back side of hazardous waste disposal facility at Gaddapotharam, run by Ramky Enviro Engineers, where the investigators found pipelines trickling out “black chemical-smelling water” and from Isnapur Lake in Pashamylaram, circular tank and borewell in Gaddapotharam, borewell and a nala in Kazipally, Hussainsagar lake and tributary of Musi river.
Heavy metals found
Testing the samples revealed “occurrence of a range of heavy metals and industrial solvents commonly used in pharmaceutical manufacturing. In some cases, these were found to be present at extremely high concentrations, orders of magnitude higher than maximum regulatory limits or safe exposure.. posing serious threat to health.”
It further says, “The mere presence of some of these substances is cause for alarm given their extreme toxicity. In addition, the occurrence of mixtures of chemicals shows a lack of adequate treatment prior to discharge.” The samples were found to contain Synthetic Organic Compounds, which are man-made and do not occur naturally and chlorinated solvents which are known carcinogens.
Hexavalent chromium denoted as Cr(VI), a known carcinogen was found in most of the collected samples. The report says this indicates that dumping of high concentration of effluents. In groundwater sample from Gaddapotharam, Cr(VI) concentration was a whopping 10,900 micrograms/liter against the maximum permissible limit by BIS of 50 microgram/litre.
Pharma firms deny
Spokespersons of Dr Reddy’s Laboratories and Mylan rejected the report as false. They said their units where Nordea conducted the study had Zero Liquid Discharge facility. “Their assessment is factually incorrect. The metals referenced in the report, other than Raneynickle which is used in finite quantities, are not used by Mylan at these facilities. Hexavalent chromium is a reagent that we don’t use or generate in our processes at these facilities,” said Mylan. The details in the report are misleading and inaccurate. Specifically, the two sites referred to in the Nordea Report are both Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) facilities and the samples collected could not have emanated from them,” said Dr Reddy’s Laboratories.