|India is on the threshold of an economic boom. No second thoughts on that count. But at what cost? Does industrialization mean that poor villagers have to suffer the ill effects of polluting industries?
The Indian state of Goa is not a leader on the industrial front but small pockets of industrialization have been confined to areas far away from the scenic coastline.
One such village in Goa has been successful in forcing the closure of polluting industries in the village of Cuncolim.
The pollution control board has cracked the whip in declaring the closure of three industries. Sunrise Zinc Ltd., Nicomet Industries Ltd. and Karthik Alloys Ltd. are the three units that face closure.
Industries play havoc by throwing safety regulations to the wind. Industrial units were disdainfully discharging solid and liquid effluents and polluting the ground water.
The industries were put to the mat when tests confirmed the worst fears of agitating villagers. It is the start of a long drawn-out struggle.
It is just a temporary relief. The polluting industries will be back once the safety regulations are put into place.
A villager from Velim sympathizes with the residents of his neighboring village from a far away land:
“Just shutting down the three polluting units in the Cuncolim Industrial Estate is not good enough. The owners of these units should bear the costs of cleaning up the contamination they have caused or face rigorous imprisonment for life. Such heavy metal and solvent contamination caused birth defects and even death in the case of nearby residents in Silicon Valley [San Francisco, Calif.] in the ’70s and ’80s due to the contamination caused by companies in the ’60s and ’70s,” says Dr. Carmo D’Cruz, a Goan and IITian now settled in Indian Harbor Beach, Florida.
“So before any such serious health problems come up in Cuncolim, the owners of these polluting units should be made to pay for and conduct the cleanup of the ground around the polluting units. And stringent EPA-type guidelines should be imposed on these units. The health effects of these ground water pollutants on the local population should be closely monitored.
“The bureaucrats and the politicians who sanctioned permission for these units to operate while continuing to pollute the groundwater with deadly heavy metals like Zinc, Cadmium, Copper and Nickel and deadlier solvents should also be thrown out of office unless they take responsibility for cleaning up the pollutants and have the area tested to be contaminant free. Otherwise a Catastrophic Environmental disaster is waiting to happen and impact future generations of Cuncolkars living in that area,” he added.
The villagers need to place their security mechanism vis-a-vis pollution into place. Vigilant citizens need to be on guard to put the errant industries on the wrong foot
|Chronology of Events Leading to the Closure of Industries at Cuncolim|
Cheers to the Cuncolim agitators
CUNCOLIM, Sept 12: The polluting industries in the Cuncolim Industrial State, a major source of illegal income for politicians in power, has finally been forced to shut down by the common people attached to the historic village of Cuncolim. If the M.L.A of Cuncolim really wanted the credit for shutting down the industries they should have been closed down before the local people had taken up the issue. According to me, no credit goes to any politician in settling the issue. Full credit goes to the non-political Cuncollekars and Cuncollekans attached to the agitation. For niz Cuncollekars it was a social cause. Hence the common people of Cuncolim together with the locals of Ambaulim got the issue solved. [Joel Moraes <email@example.com>]
CITU flays Pollution Board
PANJIM, Sept 12: The Goa State Committee of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions has strongly condemned the decision of the Goa State Pollution Control Board to close down three allegedly polluting industries in the Cuncolim Industrial Estate. Terming the said decision as politically motivated to please certain vested interests, the CITU has pointed out that without holding any scientific study or conducting any scientific investigation, the GSPCB has issued a death warrant to more than 1000 directly employed workers and and over 5000 persons dependent on them, as well as to more than 2000 persons engaged in ancillary and supporting occupations, together with their families. When Goa is already faced with mounting unemployment due to the neo-liberal economic policies of the present Congress-NCP alliance and their predecessor BJP regime, the minimum expectation from the GSPCB was that it would direct the industries concerned to immediately take all necessary corrective steps to control pollution instead of directly ordering their closure