The Andhra Pradesh government on Saturday directed Divis Laboratories not to go ahead with the construction of its new facility near Kakinada in East Godavari district till all concerns of the local people were addressed. State Industries Minister Mekapati Goutham Reddy held talks, in virtual mode, with the Divis management in the backdrop of an ongoing agitation by local villagers against the new pharmaceutical unit being set up the company.
The agitation took a violent turn two days ago with the protestors barging into the unit and damaging property. Police arrested more than 20 people in this connection. The Industries Minister asked the Divis management to withdraw the cases against the protestors and stop work on its new unit.
He asked the management to hold talks with the villagers and resolve the issue amicably. A release from the ministers office said Goutham Reddy sought a firm assurance from the management that it would take all steps to ensure no pollution was caused in the region and the livelihood of local fishermen was not affected.
The factory work should be taken up only under the direct supervision of experts from the Pollution Control Board. The minister also wanted the company to provide 75% of the jobs to locals only.
"The company responded favourably to the ministers suggestions," the release added.
The stir against the Divis bulk drug plant had in fact been continuing for the past few years after the previous Telugu Desam government allotted land under Tondangi mandal for the unit.
As the leader of opposition then, YS Jagan Mohan Reddy had opposed the setting up of the plant saying it would lead to several diseases in people besides destroying the marine wealth and leading to closure of local hatcheries.
However, after Jagan became Chief Minister, Divis started moving ahead with its plans and commenced the construction work on its new unit early this month. This triggered a fresh round of protest.