Saturday 26 September 2020

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Economy | Industry

Four experts to probe Meta Strips pollution

 

Four top scientists at national level will now probe into the pollution angle of the controversial Meta Strips Ltd, a copper processing unit in Goa set up with Spanish collaboration by Sushil Khaitan and House of Jindals.

The Anti Meta Strips Citizens Action Committee, which has presently forced the state government to temporarily close the Rs 250 crore worth unit in South Goa following violent agitation, has also now accepted the proposal, though opposed to it earlier.

"We have no faith in this government. Let them prepare a report and make it open for public scrutiny", says Nelson Fernandes, the AMCAC secretary. They are still sticking to the demand of scrapping the project.

Even chief minister Francisco Sardinha has agreed to make the document public. "Let us not talk about whether the findings of the report would be binding upon everybody. Let the government decide first", he says.

The experts are Dr B B Dhar, Director (Research) of the Association of Indian Universities, Delhi; Dr R P Moghe, senior scientist, process development division of the National Chemical Laboratories, Pune; Dr R Sarin, deputy director and head of environment impact assessment division of the Navy, Nagpur and Premchand, scientist and head of the non-ferrous process division of the Metallurgical Laboratories, Jamshedpur.

The state government has accepted all the four names suggested by Dr Raghunath Mashelkar, director general of the CSIR and a Goan by origin. They are expected to prepare a report within 10 days after beginning the work, informs Sardinha.It may be recalled that this is the committee finally coming true after Sardinha scrapped the Sindkar Commission appointed by his predecessor Luizinho Faleiro.

The AMCAC, which has been agitating with the active support of the local Church over a year now on the issue by mobilising people of four villages near port town of Vasco, has also demanded a CBI enquiry into the alleged fraud and illegalities committed in getting the project approved.

"I do not mind regularising any project which is not detrimental to the health of the society but would benefit the Goan society. Ultimately, we are sitting here in power for the same thing", says Sardinha, giving a clear indication that all the illegalities would be legally forgiven if the plant is found to be non-polluting.

While admitting that no terms of reference has been prepared for the committee to prepare a report, Sardinha however says the experts would only decide whether it is polluting or not and will not suggest any remedial measures to control pollution.

"With the health of the people and the environment at stake, there is no room for compromise. We do not believe that pollution will be controlled", states Pobres Vaz, the AMCAC president, while reiterating the demand to scrap the project.


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