Sunday 09 May 2021

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Economy | Industry

Meta Strips raises controversy

 

Yet another pollution-related controversy has begun in Goa, this time involving Meta Strips, a Spanish collaborated industry set to manufacture brass strips and foils in the cent per cent export oriented unit at Sancoale, in South Goa.

Villagers of Sancoale, Cortalim, Consua and Quellosim of Mormugao taluka, which also includes port town of Vasco, are up in arms along with a few environmental groups and scientists from the Goa University, demanding scrapping of the project.

Sushil Khaitan, CMD of Meta Strips Ltd, however strongly refutes charges claiming neither environmental damage nor health hazard. The project has already been cleared by the government-level high power co-ordination committee as well as the state pollution control board.

While the project was cleared during the tenure of erstwhile Congress government when chief minister Luizinho Faleiro was holding the industries portfolio, he has now assured the agitating locals to hold a public debate on the issue while also instructing the PCB to re-examine the pollution angle.

The Anti Meta Strips Citizens Action Committee has raised basic issues pertaining to air pollution, water pollution and noise pollution while also demanding enquiry into allotment of over two lakh sq mts of land for a song.

As the project worth Rs 250 crore is coming up on a Sancoale hillock surrounding the villages, Dr Joe D’Souza, scientist from the Goa University, fears that metal toxicity of excess of copper and zinc would find its way into the human body through ground water percolation as around two lakh litres of effluents would be discarded each day.

"Zinc ingots do not find their way in soil", argues Khaitan. The water would be used for cooling, most of which would evaporate and the rest would be used for gardening within the premises. He claims to have been investing around Rs 80 lakh to install all kind of necessary pollution control equipment there.

Khaitan also flays apprehension regarding air pollution stating that it would be a melting process, and not chemical process, to produce refined copper, the one being used all over the World. The company assures to install special German equipment from George Fisher Disa to filter and release unharmful air into the environment.

"We are fully aware of our responsibilities and obligations towards the people of Goa", claims Khaitan. Holding a press conference one day prior to the morcha of the agitating villagers on the Assembly, he has even assured to place the file of the whole project at panchayat offices for public reading.

He also points out at similar kind of industries by SWIL Ltd in Nasik and Indian Smelting and Refining Industries Ltd in Bhandup, the Mumbai suburb, for last 25 to 30 years without posing any kind of environmental hazard till date.

"But what appears baffling is why countries with advanced technology then ours should export their machinery and scrap to allow huge transport cost and manpower to upgrade copper and its alloys which could have been done in any western country", says Joel Fernandes, convenor of the action committee.


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