Chemicals eat up lush paddy fields
By Express News Service | Published: 24th April 2013 10:22 AM |
There was a time when the banks of Chitrapuzha near Irumpanam were blessed by the green and yielding paddy fields. However, thanks to the large-scale industrialisation in the area, the 60-acre paddy fields have turned into marshy land. The farmers say the pathetic state of the land is the result of the chemicals discharged by Kochi Refinery and other industries in the area.
“The issue began when FACT started production of urea which was discharged into the paddy fields. Though this initially helped the growth of paddy, things took a turn for worse later. During harvesting, we realised the disastrous effect of the chemical as the majority of the yield were chaff,” sais M I Jose, a farmer who owned a field in the area. After this incident, the farmers had to stop cultivation. More chemicals were dumped into the paddy field by the Kochi Refinery. “The paddy fields which were once a main food basket has now been lying idle,” Jose added.
The farmers got together to protect the land and moved the High Court against the industries seeking compensation for the losses incurred. “We had to wait more than five years to get a compensation. But, the Court did nothing to stop the discharge of fertilisers into the field,” he added.
The association of the farmers Irumpanam-Chitrapuzha Peeditha Karshaka Sangam are demanding acquisition of the 60-acres land either by state government or Kochi Refinery.
“Now, cultivation is impossible in the paddy field. We can not use land for any other purpose owing to the wetland conservation act. We plan to launch an indefinite hunger strike if the authorities do not address the issue,” Jose said.
Meanwhile, Sangam secretary Vipin Kizhakedathu said though they have filed an application at the Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s Mass Contact Programme asking the government to acquire the land, no action has been taken yet. “We have been informed by the district administration that the request is under consideration,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kochi Refinery authorities have refuted the charge. “We are not discharging any kind of chemicals to the paddy fields. We have the mechanism to treat all kinds of wastes in the plant and the certificates from the central and state pollution control board proves this,” said a Kochi Refinery official. He added that the refinery will not acquire the paddy field as demanded by the farmers. “We have our own procedures for acquiring lands. We need a proper project before acquiring any land. As of now, we have no plan to start a project by acquire the 60 acres paddy field at Irumpanam,” he said.