VELLORE: Close on the heels of the collapse of an effluent tank leading to the death of 10 persons in Ranipet on Saturday, the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) passed a resolution in a meeting chaired by former MLA G Latha, that the government take over all Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CETPs) in the state.
The resolution also called for severe action against CETP officials on the basis of negligence that led to the Ranipet disaster.
R Mullai, district secretary of the Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam, affiliated to All India Kisan Sabha, said that as per the Supreme Court’s ‘Polluter Must Pay’ directive, the polluter must pay compensation to the victims - not the government.
If the government pays compensation, it was absolving the industry from its social responsibilities, he said adding that a thorough technical and judicial enquiry must be conducted on the disaster with details being made transparent to the public, he said.
Mullai said that the industry had, in the past, used a vegetable tanning process involving plant extracts before migrating to the use of chemicals in the 1960s.
Since then hundreds of hazardous chemicals are being routinely used by the industry without any restrictions from the government adding that the government must ban the use of hazardous chemicals in the tanning process.
The Vellore Citizens’ Welfare Forum said that criminal action must be taken against the industry for its negligence resulting in the death of 10 persons.
It may be recalled that the Vellore Citizens’ Welfare Forum first launched a legal battle against pollution by the leather industry filing a writ petition in the Supreme Court in 1991, winning the case in 1996.
Disaster management experts have pleaded that existing Common Effluent Treatment Plants in Vellore district and elsewhere in the state should employ Non-Destructive Test (NDT) procedures to prevent future disasters.
Associate professor, Centre for Disaster Management and Mitigation, VIT University, Dr Ganapathy said that all industrial building structures must undergo NDT to ensure they are within permissible safety parameters for porosity, permeability and material strength.
He underlined the need for rigorous training that must be imparted to industry and government officials for handling disasters akin to the Ranipet disaster with disaster-management teams that assess, prevent and manage disasters.