Activists flag air pollution in SIPCOT Cuddalore, ask TNPCB to act

The SACEM alleged that the TNPCB neither has a proper continuous air monitoring system, nor has found to have taken necessary action against the polluters.
(Express Illustrations)
(Express Illustrations)

CUDDALORE: Members of the SIPCOT area community environment monitors (SACEM) on Saturday alleged that a few companies in SIPCOT Cuddalore were emitting chemical gases and polluting the air in and around the area.

Speaking to reporters, the members, along with people from nearby villages, said the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board has failed to monitor the air quality and emission from the factories, and demanded action to control them.

There are 58 chimneys in the SIPCOT area, of which 19 do not have censors on them to monitor the threshold limits, they said, adding that though an RTI reply was sought to collect the details of emission from these factories, the TNPCB replied that they didn't have any information about that.

"Based on the SIPCOT area community environmental monitoring for the period 2019-2020, we found lack of thresholds for various parameters. Industries in the area had a free reign to pollute. Among those that had the thresholds set, emissions from four industries were exceeding the permitted limit by 1.3 to 40 times. These unchecked emissions continue to impact the health of the people in the area," they added.

The SACEM alleged that the TNPCB, which has a mandate to prevent and control air pollution, neither has a proper continuous air monitoring system, nor has found to have taken necessary action against the polluters. Communities living in and around the industrial estate continuously complain of unabated air pollution incidents. The district health department, which has a mandate to protect public health, has also shown indifference, it added.

“The residents have been facing threat, and have been complaining about air pollution for nearly four decades. These non-functioning stack emission monitoring systems does not help bring any change or improvement to the air quality in and around SIPCOT. TNPCB is carrying out this process as an eyewash," said Thanakodi, a fisherman from Sonaganchavadi village.

SACEM member S Ramanathan said, “The SIPCOT residents have developed a monitoring and reporting mechanism by applying community-based environmental monitoring science for the past 17 years, even before the advent of continuous emission monitoring technology in Cuddalore. The regulators have continuously ignored community science-based reporting and left them in the midst of recurring pollution incidents and industrial accidents. The regulators must immediately discharge their lawful duty towards designing and implementing stringent monitoring mechanisms, and take action on violators to protect the environment and people in the SIPCOT area.”

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