Sucheta Dalal :Visakhapatnam Steel Plant continues to pollute sea with toxic effluents
Sucheta Dalal

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Visakhapatnam Steel Plant continues to pollute sea with toxic effluents  

June 5, 2012

Former power and finance secretary EAS Sarma says that the Vishakhapatnam Steel Plant continues to release toxic pollutants because the state pollution control board is not taking any action

Moneylife Digital Team


Former power and finance secretary EAS Sarma has said that due to inaction from the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APPCB), the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP) is continuing to spew out pollutants into Appikonda Vagu that drains into the sea.

Mr Sarma, in a notice sent to Ravi Chandra, member secretary of APPCB, said,"...the toxic pollution caused by VSP is adversely impacting traditional fishing activity in the sea adjacent to the plant. APPCB which is the statutory authority to enforce the relevant environment laws has not cared to proceed against VSP".

"If anyone can visit the Appikonda Vagu and see the black colour of the water and its turbidity, he or she will understand how VSP is releasing effluents in a highly undesirable manner. The confluence of the stream with the sea has changed the colour of the sea water, discouraging traditional fishing which used to take place in the past," said Mr Sarma, who is also the convener of the Forum for Better Visakha (FBV).

According to the former power and finance secretary, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), has given a poor environmental rating to the steel industry in general and to VSP in particular. CSE has also observed that VSP's poor record in containing pollution is primarily on account of APPCB's inaction, he said.

In his previous letter sent on 1 February 2011 to the then member secretary of APPCB, Mr Sarma said that the Visakhapatnam chapter of the Indian National Trust for Arts and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) had collected a sample of water from the channel draining waste water into the sea from VSP near Appikonda village. Here are the results of the lab testing:

According to Mr Sarma, the presence of lead in the waste water is worrisome, as the place where this water joins the sea is a site used by the local fishermen for fishing. Lead ingested fish can cause carcinogenic diseases. An independent water sample analysis carried out at this site not only confirmed the presence of lead and other solid pollutants, especially the presence of chromium, nickel and copper. I am not sure whether VSP's waste treatment plant is fully operative, he said.

Earlier in September 2001, the former secretary to the government of India sent a letter to the secretary in the ministry of environment and forests, complaining that the state level APPCB has neglected its responsibility to conduct public hearings on the basis of these environment assessment reports, apparently because officials have vested interest.
(Companies procuring false environment impact reports, ministry overlooks fraud, says former top bureaucrat)

-- Sucheta Dalal