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  • Smoke from cashew nut units poses health threat

    Apr 6th, 2015

    Many cashew nut processing units in Kanyakumari district pose a serious health threat to the local people as they throw to the winds environment-related rules and regulations in commissioning chimneys , State general secretary of Tamil Nadu Cashew Nut Workers’ Union (affiliated to the CITU) P. Singaram said here on Sunday. He said over 400 such industries were functioning in the district, most of which industries adhered to the rules in commissioning chimneys with the required height of above 60 feet. A survey was conducted in the district to identify violations by cashew nut industries a few years ago after repeated complaints from the public on the ill-effects of air pollution from chimneys. The survey was conducted by the government with the help of NGOs.

    After receiving the survey report, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), along with the district administration, initiated action against erring factories, leading to a majority of the companies taking corrective measures. However, smaller companies continued to violate the regulations, posing a health threat to residents in some pockets. The small oily particles coming out of the chimneys with low height caused respiratory problems and other health hazards, said Mr. Singaram. Cashew nut industry earned a considerable amount of foreign exchange and provided extensive employment to rural women folk, making them self-sustainable, he added.

    A. Alwin J. Anand, District Environmental Engineer (additional charge), TNPCB, told The Hindu that about 60 to 70 cashew nut processing industries out of the over 400 had installed “Wet Scrubber’’ in the chimneys to prevent oily particles from getting released into the air. “The TNPCB was taking action to ensure that other industries fit the scrubber,” Mr. Anand said. However, he admitted that the people in and around cashew nut industries in Vilavancode and Kalkulam were affected with respiratory problems due to air pollution. M. Madhusoodhanan, Deputy Director of Health Services, told The Hindu that no reports were received from any part of the district about people suffering from respiratory problems. If any case was brought to the notice of the administration, action would be initiated, he added.

    Source: Hindu business line