The residents of six villages in Ennore are breathing air that has more toxins than the permitted level, as prescribed by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, a sample study has found.
Thermal power plants
The six villages are located in the midst of several thermal power plants, including Ennore, North Chennai and Vallur plants, and many industrial units.
The villagers, who mostly depend on fishing, blame dumping of coal ash and the proximity of an ash pond to the Ennore creek for pollution of the creek, resulting in skin infections for residents and depletion of fish resources.
The sample pollution study carried out by Coastal Resource Centre has found the air quality in Ennore to be far worse than the air quality in Manali, notified as critically polluted area.
The study ‘Unfit To Breath’ was released by the Centre at a press meet held on Monday.
Shweta Narayan, a member of the study group, said the scientific analysis carried out on the rooftops of houses in villages including Kattukuppam, Mugathwara Kuppam, Athipattu and Ernavur, established that the atmosphere was permeated with heavy dust.
The analysis found particulate matter (PM) of heavy metals containing nickel, arsenic, manganese and lead to pose severe health hazards to the residents living in the villages.
The study that was carried out after requests from the villagers showed the various heavy metals to exceed the permitted standard — the level of arsenic was higher by 1.25 times, manganese by 1.2 to 2.5 times and nickel by 1.2 times.
Citing the report on dust pollution, health expert Rakhal Gaitonde said public health was in jeopardy, as the various dust particles were known to cause breathing problems, cancer and other health effects.
Need for in-depth study
Noting the failure of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) to carry out any environmental study, he wanted the State government to take immediate steps and conduct an in-depth study and provide the necessary health facilities to people.
The members of the Coastal Resource Centre and residents of the villages also wanted the State government to announce a moratorium on expansion of any thermal power plant or setting up of new industries in the region in future.
Originally published in The Hindu on 12th of April 2016. Read the article here