Report on SIPCOT pollution unduly delayed: Ambient air ‘contains eight chemicals exceeding safety limits’

Special Correspondent, The Hindu, March 31, 2007

PUBLIC WORRY: Unchecked pollution in the SIPCOT Industrial Estate area
in Cuddalore is causing concern to the residents.

CUDDALORE: The National Environmental Engineering Research Institute
(NEERI), which has been assigned the task of studying the pollution
problem in the SIPCOT Industrial Estate area here, has inordinately
delayed submitting the final report.
The State Government had sanctioned Rs. 20.15 lakh for the study that
commenced in May 2005, particularly on volatile organic compounds,
with the specific mandate that it must be completed by July 2006.
The institute has so far submitted only the interim report, according
to M. Nizamudeen, general secretary of the Cuddalore District Consumer
Mr. Nizamudeen told The Hindu that it showed the unwillingness of the
authorities to address the crucial issue of pollution causing health
hazards to the people living in the vicinity.
The SIPCOT Area Community Environmental Monitoring (SACEM), formed by
residents to carry on the fight against pollution, is as concerned now
as it was in 2004 when it exposed the hazards of untreated effluents.
But the authorities had not done anything tangible to control
pollution. The samples collected last month at two points near the
SIPCOT canteen and at the entrance of Eachangadu, revealed that the
ambient air contained 12 chemicals of which eight exceeded the limits
prescribed by the Environmental Protection Agency of the U.S.
Three chemicals, namely chloroform, methylene chloride and
trichlorethene, known to cause cancer, were much above the safety
levels. Other chemicals had the potential to affect the nervous system
and kidneys, and, cause heart and eye ailments.
Mr. Nizamudeen noted that the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee on
hazardous wastes had directed the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board
to bring down the pollution-level before December 2005. But it was not
complied with.
TNPCB sources said NEERI had submitted the draft report and the final
report would be ready soon.

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