Residents to take out protest march from Gnanapuram tomorrow

Our Bureau

The issues

The recent

tests conducted by the AP Pollution Board have confirmed that the pollution levels have gone up to 440 ppm compared to the normal level of 200 ppm.

Vehicular pollution

(noise) adds to the problem.

Visakhapatnam, Sept. 4

Industrial pollution in Visakhapatnam is causing concern and posing a grave health hazard to the citizens, especially those residing in the colonies in the old town in the vicinity of the port.

Vexed by official apathy, the people of Gnanapuram and other affected colonies have decided to take out a protest march on Wednesday.

Mr Y. Mariadas, senior Congress leader, blames the various industries such as the Visakhapatnam Port Trust and the Greater Visakha Municipal Corporation for the plight of the citizens.

"The situation is grave and urgent measures are needed to curb the air pollution and other forms of pollution, but in spite of repeated pleas there is no response from the authorities," he has said.

According to Mr R. Showrian, president of the Gnanapuram Anti-pollution Movement Committee, "The Visakhapatnam Port Trust has taken over virtually every available piece of land around the 140-year-old residential colony to set up its stockyards. The colony is surrounded by the VPT stockyards on three sides and the polluted Errigedda (a drain) on the fourth."

He complains, "We inhale air contaminated by coal, iron ore and other chemical dust emanating from the port stock yards. The recent tests conducted by the AP Pollution Board have confirmed that the pollution levels have gone up to 440 ppm compared to the normal level of 200 ppm. Vehicular pollution (noise) adds to the problem. Several schools are situated in the area and the children are at grave risk."

The members of the Anti-pollution Movement Committee blame the Essar pelletisation plant and the VPT in particular for the high pollution levels.

"We want them to take all the anti-pollution measures recommended by the AP Pollution Control Board. After a meeting in June, the deadline of August 31 was set. There has been no change in the situation," he said.

Mr Mariadas says that till the mid-sixties Errigedda, the drain, was flowing into the Meghadrigedda to join the Bay of Bengal.

"But the direction of the drain was changed to reclaim land for setting up the stockyards. The expansion plan of the VPT has resulted in the problem. There is stagnation of water as the drains are not desilted," he has said.

To highlight these problems, the residents are planning to take out a protest march on Wednesday from Gnanapuram, the worst-hit area, to the Convent Junction in the old town with the participation of a large number of school children.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated September 5, 2006)
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