Chronic pollution ails Eloor, Edayar

The people of Eloor and Edayar are  under trauma as the deaths due to chronic diseases continue.

The Kerala High Court had suggested that the  construction of polluting industries should not be allowed in the Edayar industrial belt. The court made the suggestion on June 19 while considering a petition filed by Periyar Malineekarana Virudha Samithi.

The 450-acre industrial area established in 1962 falls under the Kadungalloor panchayat. Two years later, the displaced families were rehabilitated to Thandirickal colony, near the Edayattu Chal (canal), which had been the most-preferred waste dumping yard of the companies over the years.

Cicily Varghese, a resident of the colony, said: “Two weeks ago, Thankam of the colony died of cancer. I am ailing from asthma and skin diseases. My son Francis is suffering from heart disease. The treatment is very costly and I cannot afford it.” In a survey it has been found that almost 15 people died of cancer in the last five years in this colony.

The Chakkala thodu that falls in the industrial area is highly polluted.

Organo Fertilisers, a bone processing factory, and ‘Cee Jee Lubricants’ are located the canal. A joint survey conducted by the PCB and the Ward 17 Welfare Association identified 13 companies, including the Organo and Cee Jee, as heavy polluters.

There are around 250 companies operating on either sides of the Periyar. 

“The three integral organs of an ecological unit - the land, water and air - are polluted.  The pollutants are highly genotoxic and neurotoxic,” said Purushan Eloor who heads Malineekarana Virudha Samithi.

Meanwhile, the Pollution Control Board has said water samples are being analysed on a monthly basis. The awards are given on the basis of a thorough analysis of the activities of a company over an year.

“The rate of contamination has come down considerably in the last few years,” said PCB executive engineer K G Sajeevan.

The companies have refuted the claims that they are the main polluting agents of the area.

“We are dealing with non-hazardous, inorganic  metallic compounds. We have got so many sophisticated treatment plants working round the clock in our factory compound,” says CMRL assistant general manager P M  Ashtamoorthi.

FACT general manager K V Sukumaran pointed out that in recent years, the pollution caused by companies at Eloor has decreased drastically. “FACT has always been ready to install the best technologies to curb pollution. Recently we have set up a start-up scrubber to control ammonia and sulphur content in the atmosphere,” he said. 

Binani Zinc Ltd Assistant vice-president Anil Pillai also commented that the company was conscious of the need to safeguard the environment.

“We have a well-operated department which deals with the environment and health issues. This is the fifth year we are achieving the Environment Excellence Award,” he said.    

Organo Feritilisers say the villagers and the slaughter houses dump waste into the ‘Chakkala Thodu’ which flows through its compound. “Our waste is bio-degradable which is directed to our biogas plants or make it into organic manure,” said managing director Joykutti T A.

Former District Medical Officer Dr R Sudhakaran said the Health Department had no evidence to establish that the pollutants are carcinogenic or neurotoxic. However, oncologist Ansar Suhad Sait said the locals were having higher tendency for developing cancer cells.

“This is an epidemic kind of situation and the authorities have to solve the health issues prevailing in the area immediately,” he said.

—Greeshma Neelakandhan

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