Thousands of villagers from Palsana taluka in Surat district took out a rally on Thursday and later handed over a memorandum to Surat district Collector Jayprakash Shivhare, requesting him to shut down the Geo-Hybrid Industries Solution Company Limited (GISCL) at Gujarat Eco Textile Park in Palsana.
A few days ago, two labourers died at the unit after inhaling poisonous gas, while the condition of two others is reportedly critical. They are still undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Surat.
Palsana police have started investigations into the death of two labourers. The victims who died have been identified as Chintan Patel (25) and Sarfaraz Shaikh (26), while the two others are Saheb Khan Pathan and Salim Shaikh, all residents of different villages in Palsana taluka of Surat district.
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Villagers of Baleshwar and neighbouring areas had been fed up with the bad smell emanating from the GISCL site. Sources said the highly toxic wastes from the Vapi GIDC and Ankleshwar GIDC had earlier been treated and incinerated in GEPIL at Bhestan in Surat. Due to violation of pollution norms, the company was shut down. Then, the work of treating the toxic wastes from Vapi and Ankleshwar was transferred to GISCL at Baleshwar. Here, the same practice was continued as the toxic wastes collected from different factories were discharged into the Baleshwar creek and the solid waste incinerated at high temperatures to reduce concentration, and later buried. The factory owner was not following proper pollution norms. The villagers of 18 villages of Palsana taluka took out the rally in tempos, trucks, cars and bikes from Palsana to Surat on Thursday morning.
The police department in Surat was put on high alert on seeing the people spill onto the streets. The villagers met Collector Jayprakash Shivhare and handed him the memorandum, requesting him to take strict action against GISCL. Soon after speaking to the village, Shivhare on the spot called up the GPCB officials and instructed them to rush to Baleshwar and serve the factory an immediate closure notice.
“We are glad that the district collector gave us a hearing and even assured us of taking forward our demand for temporary closure of the factory to his higher officials,” Palsana Paryavan Bachav Samithi leader Hemant Patel said. “We had taken out a peaceful rally, but we have told the Collector that if the factory starts operating again we will go on an indefinite hunger strike outside his office,” he added.