Protests by Ennore residents against the Coromandel International Limited (CIL) company, which began on December 27, over an ammonia gas leak from its plant, entered the fourth day on Saturday, December 30. Protesting residents want the fertiliser manufacturing company to be permanently shut. The village welfare association heads also drafted an official complaint letter and submitted it at the M5 Ennore police station on Friday, residents said.
Madhi, resident welfare association head of Dr Sathya Vani Muthu Nagar in Ennore, said village representatives had unanimously decided to continue protesting against the company and also pursue legal action. “We want a permanent solution to ensure the safety of our lives and that is what we are protesting for, said Madhi, adding that they are awaiting the submission of Pollution Control Board (PCB) report sought by the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) Southern Bench, which has taken suo motu cognisance of the ammonia gas leak.
Shajitha, a resident, told TNM that during the meeting held on December 28, a decision to form a safety committee was made. The committee is now in the process of being constituted. “There have been multiple instances of such gas leaks and of industries polluting our ecosystem, which we are heavily dependent on for our livelihoods. The oil spill by Chennai Petroleum Corporation Limited (CPCL) too was one such incident. We have decided to fight against the CIL continuing its operations here,” she added.
CIL in a statement, on Saturday, said that the company has received a nod to resume operations after receiving a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Directorate of Industrial Safety and Health (DISH). “The company would like to clarify further that the Pollution Control Board (PCB) has not given any permission to restart the unit and has issued directions to ensure that all Ammonia pipeline inside the plant is intact and safe and shall obtain NOC from DISH before restarting the plant,” the statement read.
According to the residents, all but nine who were admitted to hospitals in Chennai after the gas leak, have been discharged post treatment. As per police reports, 50 people were initially hospitalised and the others who showed mild symptoms were treated at the medical camps which were set up in all the villages.
At around 11:45 pm on December 26, the pressure in the pipelines carrying ammonia gas in the sea bed dropped, resulting in the leakage. Residents were alerted by workers who were returning from their late night shifts by word of mouth, after which they rushed out of their homes in large numbers. Residents who spoke to TNM alleged that the company didn’t use the emergency alarm button to alert residents and didn’t help them evacuate to safety. They demand that CIL be held accountable for the gas leak.
Watch: Ennore Oil Spill: 12 days later, no one knows the amount of oil that was spilled