IT HAPPENS ONLY IN INDIA,
GREAT JOB MR. PARMAR
it is good to eat as many as vegetables and fruits (totally vegetarian), but my aurvedic doctor asked me to stop eating every...
a public hearing on 52 illegal bulk drug and pharmaceutical companies operating in Andhra Pradesh's Medak district was a lesson in how dissent gets thwarted. The meeting on April 11-13, 2005 was conducted more than 10 years after these factories were allowed to operate by the state Pollution Control Board (appcb) without environmental clearance. The last extended deadline for getting the clearance expired in 2004 but the factories continued operating.
These 52 industrial units are among the 218 that the Supreme Court had ordered closed in February 2005 on the ground that they were operating without environmental clearance. Thirty two villages in Medak suffer air, soil and water pollution caused by these factories spread over five industrial areas: Bollaram, Kazipalli, Patancheru, Bonthapally and Pashmylaram.
At the hearing, farmers, armed with bottles of dirty green water, demanded the closure of the factories: "There is no grain in the rice we grow, no drinking water in the village; I drink water once a week," rued Parvathiamma of Gadapotharam village. Many villagers said they have given up agriculture as their land got burnt. Factory effluents have contaminated the groundwater to such an extent that water in borewells has become coloured. Medak district has only one, grossly underutilised, common effluent treatment plant (cetp). This too doesn't manage the effluent properly. appcb's fact finding committees in 1998 and the Andhra Pradesh High Court in 2004 had found that the cetp itself is a major source of pollution. Representatives of the fishing community of Sangareddy, which once had many tanks used for fishing, complained that they have lost their livelihood. "We used to buy fingerlings, raised them in the kuntas (tanks) and fished. Now we have no option but to work as porters," said D Kistiah, a member of the fisherfolk's cooperative in the area. "We can hardly eat now," lamented the cooperative's chairperson C Kistiah. The choice of the meeting's venue was also severely criticised, as it was very far from many affected villages.Amid these protests, truckloads of industry workers and local politicians, who thronged the meeting, argued that while pollution should come down, the companies can continue operating. As the companies presented their cases, farmers, joined by activists of global environment group Greenpeace, raised the issue of the companies not making their environmental impact assessment (eia) reports known to people beforehand. The eias had reportedly not been conducted individually on the factories; clusters of units were analysed. The arguments led to a scuffle between industry representatives and villagers, followed by police lathi charge and stone pelting. Around 50 villagers and activists were arrested.
Fewer farmers attended the meet on the second day. Industry representatives explained their pollution control measures in relative ease. On the last day, the hearing was almost entirely attended only by industry workers. "I was surprised to see such a large gathering of factory workers. Enquiries revealed they had been promised a bonus of Rs 2,000," claimed Patancheru sarapanch M Devendra Raju. appcb officials refused to comment, saying the hearing's report will reach the Union ministry of environment and forests. "Our role is only to present the case of both sides," said Rao.