The environmental public hearing for the expansion of the Sagar Cements factory here saw many locals welcome the proposal with the rider that the unit should ensure safety mechanism is in place and jobs be given to locals.
“The factory’s pollution is causing diseases among the locals and tribals, yet they say the expansion of the cement factory is for development,” some of the residents of the village pointed out at the public hearing that was conducted by Suryapet Joint Collector Sanjeeva Reddy with Telangana State Pollution Control Board Environmental Engineer for erstwhile undivided Nalgonda district P. Jawaharlal in attendance. The meeting went on peacefully.
More than 200 locals and leaders attended the public hearing which had a posse of 150 policemen on duty to maintain peace. The mandal headquarters in Huzurnagar division has a high number of cement factories.
“The tribals who are dependent on the nearby forest resources are affected, as plants and trees are mostly covered in harmful dust from the factory,” one of the residents Krishna Naik said. Others also pointed to the increasing incidences of lung, skin and hair diseases among the residents.
The officials of the Sagar Cements explaining their version said the expansion would bring employment opportunities and development to locals.
They said that they had a deployed a number of safety measures using technology. The company planned to ensure a ‘zero liquid discharge’ process would be in place in three years, they assured.
Sagar Cements has been in operation at Mattampally since 1985.
It has been producing 2.35 million tonne cement per annum at its two units. The public hearing was for the proposal to increase its production to 5 MTPA, besides upgrading the existing units and setting up a third line.
The company also proposes to install 2×18 MW coal-based thermal power plant and a 15 MW waste heat recovery plant, which would generate 58 MW power as against 7 MW now.
The video-recorded testimonies will be forwarded to the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, the officials of the State Pollution Control Board said.
The Huzurnagar police took into custody an activist Rathnamala, an advocate Vijaya Vindhyala and other environment enthusiasts and prevented them from reaching the venue of the public hearing.
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