Polluters penalised

Sponge iron plants to pay farmers

Published: Monday 15 May 2006

The Andhra Pradesh High Court has ordered 10 sponge iron factories in Mahabubnagar district to pay Rs 3 crore to affected people as compensation for causing pollution and damaging crops. The penalty for failing to pay up will be salutary. "(Unless they pay) the court would shut down these dust- emanating factories," a division bench ruled on April 6, 2006.

The Mahabubnagar district administration in consultation with the agriculture department had estimated that the total crop damage in these pollution-affected areas would be around Rs 63 lakh per crop season.

The court put together four-five crop seasons and calculated the compensation. The bench reprimanded the district administration and the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (appcb) for laxity and directed appcb to constitute a committee that would monitor the pollution caused by the sponge iron factories.

The court's direction was in response to a petition filed by nine farmers from Mahabubnagar in 2005, seeking action against the plants. Sponge iron plants, lined up along the Hyderabad-Bangalore national highway, are the prime pollutants in the area.

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