ONGOLE: The Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APPCB), regional office on Thursday cracked the whip on two industries - pharmaceutical and chemical - for indiscriminate dumping of dangerous chemical waste into Pothuraju Canal, the main water source for around 1,000 acre of paddy fields and aquaculture ponds in Allur and Kothapatnam of Prakasam district.
The AP Central Power Distribution Company Ltd has been asked to disconnect power supply to the Ever Health Life Sciences and the GMS Pharma Company with immediate effect. APPCB, Ongole environment engineer G Nagi Reddy has issued closure order for the two industries set up in APIIC, Gundlapalli Industrial Growth Centre-Maddipadu.
From the last few months, farmers and aquaculture pond owners were faced with a peculiar problem - the crops and prawns were dying due to acidic waters (acidic water is highly corrosive to just about everything it comes into contact with) of the Pothuraju Canal.
Suspicious that something was wrong, the farmers and aquaculture pond owners kept a 24-hour vigil near the canal to see what was amiss. In the wee hours of March 18, they saw two tankers dumping waste into the canal.
The farmers caught the tanker drivers and handed them over to the Ongole Taluka Police Station and also informed Nagi Reddy. Responding immediately, the APPCB environment engineer collected samples from the tankers, Pothuraju Canal waters, paddy fields and from the pharma and chemical industries and sent them for testing to the Central Analysis Laboratory.
"The results confirmed the samples to be high in pH values - pH 1 and 2, which is hazardous for crops, livestock, vegetation, aquaculture, other living organisms and environment. In fact as per norms, these industries should treat the chemical waste at their plants only. There are specific SOPs for proper disposal of chemical waste. As these industries violated the norms, we issued closure order for the two industries," Nagi Reddy told The New Indian Express on Thursday.
"Though the police did not respond immediately, the APPCB took the issue quite seriously. We demand the police to act on our complaints and do justice for us. Several of the farmers have lost paddy crop and aquaculture pond owners prawn stocks worth Rs 3 crore to 5 crore due to the polluted waters of the Pothuraju Canal," District Rythu Sangham general secretary Duggineni Gopinath said.