Bowing to the pressure of the Dakshina Kannada fisherfolk in Karnataka, the state government has finally directed Mangalore Refineries and Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL) to instal a modern recycling plant and build a one-km long open canal for discharging effluents into the Arabian Sea after removing MRPL's pipelines. The MRPL has agreed upon this directive.
The decision came after a dialogue on December 24, 1995, between the Dakshina Kannada Fishermen's Environment Protection Committee and MRPL representatives in the presence of the state chief minister H D Deve Gowda.
After a consensus, the committee called off its agitation against the laying of pipelines by the MRPL. The MRPL agreed to use purified effluents for agricultural purpose during nine months of the year and discharge them into the sea only during monsoon.
Official sources state that there are certain technical problems regarding channelising effluents through an open canal which needs to be well planned. Allowing effluents through the open canal would reduce the pressure needed to push the discharge deep into the sea. There was also the danger of cattle drinking contaminated water from the open canal. It was agreed that a citizens' committee to monitor recycling and treatment of effluents would be formed. The monitoring devices, including computer modelling, would be made available to the committee which will inspect the standard of effluent recycling and treatment from time to time.
Government officials also said that they would allow new industries in the district only after making a proper environmental impact assessment. Finally, the meeting decided that all industries coming up in the district would obligatorily spend one per cent of their project cost for the district's welfare and development.
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