The fact that the air in the Ennore region, where industries have sprouted indiscriminately over the years, is polluted was known.The alarming levels it has reached were revealed on Monday .
Coastal Resource Centre, a NGO, sent air samples collected from Kattukuppam, Mugathwara Kuppam, Athipattu and Ernavur all within a 3km radius of the nearest ash pond or a power plant in Ennore to US-based Chester LabNet in US to test for particulate matter, including carcinogens, and heavy metals in the air. While the level of PM 2.5 was 1.7 to 2.3 times higher than standards prescribed by the Union ministry of environment, forests and climate change, the levels of manganese was 1.2 to 2.5 times the standards set by the California office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.
“Neither the state government nor the central government has set standards for heavy metals like manganese, lead and arsenic in the air,“ said Nityanand Jayaraman, a CRC member who addressed the press on Monday . “For these, we used standards used globally .“ The study also found the levels of lead, arsenic and nickel were much higher than prescribed standards.
Fly-ash mixed with water has created a thick sludge in the water bodies, its impact visible in all its monstrosity .Talking on behalf of the six villages around the Ennore Creek, Kattukuppam pan chayat head Selva said many residents had skin infections as they were constantly in touch with polluted water.“The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) is unresponsive to our complaints. The power plants have destroyed our environment and health,“ he said.
The mangroves that once stretched away for miles in the region have almost entirely disappeared. Activists say the government should not allow any more plants in the region. “Till the place is cleaned and restored, there should be a complete moratorium in expansion,“ said member of Community Environmental Monitoring Shweta Narayan. TOI tried contacting several TNPCB for comment. While one sought more time to answer, others didn’t answer.
Originally published in The Times of India on 12th April 2016. Read the article here