In Areas Around Sterlite's Copper Plant, Groundwater Heavily Contaminated With Metals: Central Govt
After an analysis of groundwater samples taken from areas around Sterlite Copper Smelter in Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu, the government has said that the water contains heavy metal beyond permissible limit and is contaminated.
“The analysis of groundwater samples, from the Sterlite industrial unit, by the State Pollution Control Board shows presence of Iron, Lead, Fluoride, Cadmium, and Nickel more than the permissible limit of BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards),” said minister of state for water resources Arjun Ram Meghwal while referring to information received from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), reported The Times of India.
Groundwater checked after protests
Yesterday, on July 22, AIADMK member Sasikala Pushpa Ramaswamy asked in the upper house of the parliament as to what steps have been taken by the government to check the groundwater in Tuticorin.
In a written response, Meghwal said, “The Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) has carried out a study to ascertain the groundwater quality in and around the State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu (SIPCOT) industrial area, Thoothukudi (wherein, M/s Sterlite industry is one of the industry).
He further added, “The study indicates that most of the groundwater samples are contaminated with high TDS and heavy metals like Lead, Cadmium, Chromium, Manganese, Iron, and Arsenic, which are beyond permissible limits of BIS Standards for drinking water”.
On May 22, thousands of people in Tuticorin gathered on the streets to protest against the functioning of Vedanta’s Sterlite Copper Smelter Unit. They claimed that in the 25 years that Sterlite has functioned in the city, it successfully destroyed its ecological balance which led to an increase in various illnesses.
As many as 13 people were killed in the protest when police indiscriminately opened fire on the protestors. The plant was closed down on the following day by Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) “due to non-compliance of consent conditions”.
The environment ministry said that they are looking into the matter and will take further actions according to the Environment Protection Act, 1986.