August 4, 2021 4:31:11 pm
The Andhra Pradesh government stuck to its stand that the closure notice issued to Amara Raja Batteries Limited, promoted by Telugu Desam Party MP Galla Jaydev, was based on evidence of dangerous levels of lead contamination and pollution, and not targeted for any other reason.
In April, the AP Pollution Control Board (APPCB) issued a closure notice to two Amara Raja Batteries Limited’s manufacturing units at Karakambadi and Nunegundlapalli in Chittoor District, citing pollution in land and water surrounding them. The company had approached the AP High Court seeking a stay on the closure notice and on May 5, the HC stayed the closure notice but issued several directions to the company to control pollution and comply with all the norms and several measures directed by the HC and PCB before June 17. The HC directed the APPCB to find out if the company had complied with its directions and whether necessary steps had been taken by the company to control pollution after June 17.
Secretary of Forest Department R Vijay Kumar said that as per the HC’s directions, a team was constituted to study the conditions prevailing in the industries. “Reports by both APPCB and Hyderabad-based EPTRI (Environment Protection Training and Research Institute) mentioned that dangerous levels of lead have been identified in air, water, land and even in the blood samples of the factory staff. Based on the reports, the High Court asked Amara Raja Batteries to initiate measures to address the lead pollution from its factories, which the management failed to do,” he said.
Kumar said that the air, water and land were polluted to a great extent, even affecting the health of employees working in the industries. He said that Nayudu Cheruvu and Gollapalli reservoir and other water tanks in the vicinity of the two battery manufacturing units were highly contaminated with lead ranging from 134.79 mm to 3159 mm. “Almost 4-5 km radius surrounding the industries is highly polluted. Although PCB gave permission to operate 28 air stags, the company was unauthorisedly using over 137 air stags. Even employees working in the industries were found with alarming levels of Lead 42 mg/dcl in their bodies due to severe exposure,” he said.
“No industry was singled out and closure and stop production notices were served as per norms. Amara Raja Industries was among the 50 industries that were given notice for closure and 64 industries have been given stop-production orders. The PCB conducts random inspections every month in various category industries, like cement, pharma and others, and 54 industries were inspected in January this year. During inspections, pollution levels were found to be high in some industries violating the norms along with Amara Raja. It is found that the managements have violated the PCB norms and as directed by the High Court, they were asked to shift the industries, as irreparable damage was done to the ecosystem surrounding the industries. Amara Raja management had been given notices twice in addition to the legal hearing on their violations, before serving the closure orders, just like in other industries,” he said.
Amara Raja Industries stated that it had initiated measures to comply with APPCB and HC orders and also presented their plans to officials to control pollution.
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