CHENNAI: Villages in an 8-km radius around NLCIL have severe ground and surface water contamination, an assessment conducted by Chennai-based environmental advocacy group Poovulagin Nanbargal and Manthan Adhyayan Kendra has said.
The study titled ‘POWERing Pollution: The Environmental and Pollution Impacts of Thermal Power Stations and Mining Operating in Neyveli & Parangipettai’ was carried out with the involvement of local communities.
At a place in Tholkappiyar Nagar of Vadakkuvellur village, mercury levels exceeded the permissible limit by 250 times. Multiple samples collected within 8 km radius from the NLC mines and thermal power plants were found to contain elements like Aluminium, Fluoride, Iron, Manganese, Magnesium, Mercury and Selenium in high concentration.
Detailed village-level surveys were done in Athandardollai, Akhilandakangapuram, Kallukkuzhi, Thenkuthu, Vanadhirayapuram, Vadakuvellur, Thoppalikuppam. Two rounds of collection and testing of water (surface and ground) and soil samples were carried out with 20 locations in the first round and 11 locations in the second.
The study report said out of the 31 surveyed locations, 17 were found to be seriously contaminated and 11 places were significantly contaminated. In Parangipettai where M/s IL&FS Tamil Nadu Power Company Limited operates a seawater-based 1200MW coal-based power plant, sampling was done. Also, a health survey was done involving 101 households and at least one family member suffered from kidney, skin or respiratory diseases. Majority of respondents attributed these problems to NLC effluents, the study claimed.
In a joint press conference, Shripad Dharmadhikary of Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, one of the authors of the study, Sundarrajan of Poovulagin Nanbargal, legislators Jawahirulla and Velmurugan demanded TNPCB and union environment ministry to put in place a mechanism to curb the pollution and set-up a formal and legally recognised committee of key officials from NLC and ITPCL, village panchayat heads to the monitor the progress.
Soil Biologist Sultan Ismail said fly ash from NLCIL is like a time bomb and can cause irreparable damage to the environment and people. While NLC has not responded to the TNIE queries, a public information notice issued in March said NLCIL was pumping out only 71.8 million cubic metres of groundwater per annum against 149.7 million cubic metres permitted by Union environment ministry and Central Water Control Board. It said 163 inspection borewells have been established in Neyveli and groundwater test results are sent to TNPCB periodically.