Good job bringing this to light. People won't realise how huge the problem is and municipalities are woefully ill equipped to...
Agreed; mining can never be sustainable, but then how do you get the metals to make all the things you need in the course of...
Very good piece.
ON JULY 22, villagers of Londa in
Karnataka's Belgaum district rejoiced
after they won the court case against the
Kundil Group's sponge iron plant. The
plant was poisoning their crops, waterbodies
and the air. But their joy was
short-lived. A month after the district
divisional commissioner closed it, the
state pollution control board (SPCB)
allowed the plant to start operation.
The villagers plan to file a contempt
"We asked SPCB on what basis the
plant was allowed to restart, but we were
told to visit the board's head office in
Bengaluru," said Pradeep Juwadi, a resident
of Londa. "The plant has turned
Londa and surrounding villages into a
living hell," said Shashikant Sawant,
another resident. Black soot from the
plant settles on crops and waterbodies;
paddy yield has fallen 80 per cent.
Children constantly fall sick after
ingesting water and food contaminated
with the soot," he said.
Sawant, Juwadi and 11 other villagers
filed the petition in the Karnataka
High Court on July 5 seeking closure of
the plant. They had produced evidence
of pollution. "Realizing the severity, the
court ordered the closure of the plant
immediately and said it can't reopen
unless it meets standards mandated by
the Environment Protection Act, 1986,"
said Ravindra Kumar Gokakar, counsel
for the villagers. "The plant is located
next to the Phandari river and close to
villages," he said. (Sponge iron units are
in the list of industries that can't be
located near a waterbody or human
habitation.) SPCB should not have
allowed the plant to reopen contravening
the court order, said Gokakar. "We
will not rest till it is shut," said Juwadi.
The plant was set up in 2005 without
the necessary clearances. Then, SPCB
had filed cases against the plant managers
(see 'Shifting pain', Down To
Earth, May 31, 2006). Kundil officials
were unavailable for comments. So were
officials of the SPCB.