Jokatte, Oct 27, 2017: Fly ash released from Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited (MRPL) owned sulphur plant continues to pollute nearby residential areas at Kalavaru, Jokatte area and created panic among locals. Many residents have faced serious health issues following rise in the quantity of ash in the region here locals said.
The local residents have been facing the same issue for the past four years when sulphur plant began its operation in 2014. The local residents have been facing severe health issues and almost all water sources in the locality including wells, lakes have been polluted in the region due to fly ash.
MRPL and state government have decided to form a green zone on an area of 27 acre land and the plan is being implemented as proposed. However, the locals have urged MRPL and other concerned authorities to take measures to control soil, air, and sound pollution in the region.
The tiny tots at the anganwadi in Jokatte on the outskirts of the city bordering MRPL units are forced to play in their classroom as the floor of their play area, which is adjoining the classroom, is black because of accumulation of black dust.
This anganwadi functioning from Jokatte Gram Panchayat building is among the places affected in the last few days by the accumulation of black dust, which has resurfaced following the end of the rainy season.
While Jokatte residents point fingers at MRPL’s coke and sulphur plant, the company spokesperson said that prima facie the dust seen in the anganwadi play area was not from his company’s units. Samples of the dust collected has been sent for further examination in the company’s internal laboratory and also to a laboratory outside, the spokesperson said.
Aboobacker Bawa, a member of the Jokatte Gram Panchayat, noticed accumulation of black dust in the children play area on Tuesday evening. “This dust is the same as that we have seen in the past before the onset of monsoon,” Mr. Aboobacker said and pointed fingers at MRPL’s coke and sulphur unit. “There cannot be any other reason for this accumulation of black dust,” he added.
Karnataka Pollution Control Board’s Environment Officer Rajashekar Puranik said that they have also collected samples and sent them for examination.
Kuttu Poojary and Ismail Neelkemar, whose houses are in the Bajana Mandir area that is about 500 metres away from MRPL’s coke sulphur unit, said that cleaning the black dust accumulating in their courtyard, has become a daily routine.
“It all depends on the way the wind blows. Within minutes, dust accumulates and we have to keep cleaning it,” he rued.
On Thursday, Mr. Neelkemar was clearing dust accumulated on articles stocked at his wholesale shop located close to the house.
“The cause for this is the unit located close-by. We are surprised at the company’s denial,” he said. This problem will stop only if the unit moves away from the area at the earliest, he said.
Following representations and agitation, the State Government in April last year directed MRPL to create a green buffer zone to prevent pollution in Jokatte and neighbouring areas. MRPL was also asked to relocate the coke and sulphur unit.
According to official sources, the Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board has been authorised to acquire 27 acres of land for the creation of the green buffer zone. A KIADB official said that the board will go ahead with the acquisition process once it gets clearance from the State government to include some of the areas that the residents are insisting upon, in the buffer zone.
The MRPL spokesperson said that a process was on to shift the coke and sulphur unit to a place located 500 metres away.