Residents of Tondiarpet have complained about mixing of crude oil in ground water due to oil seepage from the pipes of Bharat Petroleum, a public sector company. They allege that for the last 10 months they were getting water mixed with crude oil, which they were using for bathing, washing clothes, cleaning vessels and toilet, as they do not have an alternative. The polluted water was causing skin irritation and burning sensation in the eyes, besides urinary infection, they charged.
A 52-year-old resident, Selvi, who lives in the area along the Tiruvottiyur High Road, took a piece of cloth, dipped it in the water and set it on fire to show how much of petroleum it contained.
Another resident Jayaraman said, “We have been living in this house for three generations and the ground water used to be potable. Now, we are unable to use it even for toilet purposes. The water causes itches on the skin and smells of petrol”.
The residents said that even after approaching the authorities of the petroleum company, Chennai Corporation and the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, they found no solution. About six months ago the TNPCB officials reportedly took samples of the polluted water but are yet to take action.
Due to this, many of the tenants have shifted away from the area. Jayaraman said, “I had a tenant, Palani, who was living with his wife and children in the portion I had rented for the last five years. Two months ago, he vacated the portion solely because of this issue.”
A senior official from Bharat Petroleum said, “We do not have a petrol line that runs through the residential area in Tondiarpet. In addition, there is no leakage from our pipes. However, we are investigating the issue.”