HYDERABAD: Usually, whenever there is an environmental destruction, the pollution control board assesses damages, orders the polluting companies to pay a fine that is forwarded to district authorities. They money is then directly paid to affected parties. However, TSPCB officials have no information of pharma association paying money into personal accounts of Gaddapotharam gram panchayat headmen.
While the years in which this cheque payment was made by MIA include 2002-04, 2004-06, 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11, speaking to some villagers from Gaddapotharam and one of the sarpanch named in the letter revealed that MIA paid money in 2015 as well. As per some villagers, the “crop compensation” was paid in 2016 too, however, it was in cash mode, during demonetisation.Srinivasa Murthy, who identified himself as the administrative secretary of Model Industries Association, did not respond to multiple requests by Express for clarification.
Peculiarly, the Model Industrial Association has almost no internet presence. The Madhura Nagar address of MIA mentioned on its letter pad is same as Kekule Pharma, which has office in Madhura Nagar.
It may be mentioned here that in 2012, the then MIA president K Raja Rao was reprimanded by AP Pollution Control Board. When contacted, MP Ashok, one of the two sarpanches in whose account MIA deposited money said, “The 14 villages where pollution affected victims were paid compensation as per orders of the Supreme Court did not include Gaddapotharam among the affected villages. So, the villagers approached Model Industrial Association to pay compensation which they have been paying intermittently since the past few years.”
“Crop compensation” benefits only a handful
“The pharmaceutical companies do not employ the villagers from Gaddapotharam as skilled workers in their plants. However, they want to ensure that the villagers do not make much noise and take help of the sarpanch in suppressing their voice by distributing paltry sums of money that reaches some select people. The pharmaceutical companies are able to do so because they have support from local politicians. I have been raising this issue since long. Once one of the sarpanch from the village and his goons beat me up for raising the issue,” says environmental activist and resident Srikanth Kummari.
Gaddapotharam gram panchayat consists of four villages - Gaddapotharam, Chetlapotharam, Kistiahpally and Alinagar. These four villages have about 800 households. Most of the people in these villages have been rendered without a regular source of income due to pollution of land, ground water and 4-5 water bodies by the pharmaceutical companies. As the compensation money is paid to only about 150 land owners, this leaves the hundreds of other landless families who once depended on agriculture activities or fishing for income without any compensation.