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Sterlite Plant Closure Has Not Improved Air Quality in Thoothukudi

Logistic News - Published on Wed, 11 Dec 2019

Image Source: Sterlite Copper
Swarajya Magazine reported that post the closure of the Sterlite Copper Plant in Tamil Nadu’s Thoothukudi city, the quality of air remains the same as it was before the industrial unit was ordered shut. According to a Right to Information response given by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board there is no significant change in the ambient air quality per data collected by TNPCB in three locations of the city in the last 18 months after the unit’s closure. TNPCB data provided in the RTI show that while SO2 concentration in ambient air was 12.63 microgram per cubic metre in April 2018, it was 13 microgram per cubic metre in June this year and 11 microgram per cubic metre in July. According to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards, the permissible level is 50 microgram per cubic metre annually.

The TNPCB data show that the presence of nitrogen oxides, especially nitrogen dioxide, was 8.63 microgram per cubic metre on 29 April last year. It was 9.6 microgram per cubic metre on 30 April this year. The permissible levels as per NAAQM standards are microgram per cubic metre

The presence of PM10 particulate matter of 10 mm diameter and less in Thoothukudi was 83 microgram per cubic metre in April last year. By April this year, it was 85 microgram per cubic metre. The permissible level for PM10 is 60 microgram per cubic metre

The presence of PM2.5 particulate matter of 2.5 mm diameter and less in the industrial city was recorded at 25.76 microgram per cubic metre in October last year against 26.36 microgram per cubic metre in April. The permissible level for PM2.5 is 40 microgram per cubic metre

One of the main charges made by TNPCB against the Sterlite copper plant was that it was the largest emitter of sulphur dioxide , thus causing air pollution. But Sterlite contends that its copper plant has SO2 mitigation measures and thus its contribution to the chemical's concentration, per se, may not be more than one to two per cent. The TNPCB data prove its contention. The company also points to the data recording the concentration of SO2 and other chemicals such as nitrogen oxides being well within permissible levels in Thoothukudi between 2003 and 2019. Thus it argues that it has never been responsible for any pollution in the region.

The Thoothukudi Sterlite plant was ordered shut by the Tamil Nadu government after violence erupted during protests demanding the closure of the unit, leading to the death of 13 persons in police firing. For nearly 100 days from February 2018, protests were held in Thoothukudi demanding that the copper plant be closed, alleging that it was causing pollution to the industrial city of Thoothukudi. Even before the plant was ordered shut, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board withdrew its consent for the operation of the copper plant on charges that the Sterlite plant had caused air and water pollution.

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Posted By : Yogender Pancholi on Wed, 11 Dec 2019
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