Tamil Nadu Paper Mill Triggering Air and Water Pollution, Complaint Filed
Shree Karthik Papers Limited is causing air pollution and groundwater contamination due to effluent discharge into the residential areas
Recently, S Rajendran, the owner of a coconut grove filed a complaint with the forest department against the paper mill, Shree Karthik Papers Limited, nestled on the foothills of the Anamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR) in Pollachi, Tamil Nadu. But the resident has accused the paper mill of causing air pollution and groundwater contamination. The factory’s chimneys spread dust into the air and discharge effluent into adjacent residential areas.
As per the Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) classification, this particular paper and pulp industry is among the 17 most polluting industries. Soon after the complaint, a team from the forest department visited the factory to check the pollution levels.
The ATR’s senior officials state that they are assessing the factory’s impact under the ‘red category’ on adjacent water bodies and wildlife. The mill manufactures around 875 tonnes of paper monthly.
Speaking on the factory’s contamination levels, the paper mill’s general manager, A Ravindran, says that they are managing the factory’s air pollution mitigation measures since 1995. The factory has a valid Consent to Operate (CTO) by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB).
Their factory is spread across 4,576 square metres and was built in 2000. They got wildlife clearance in 2018 for constructing 962 square meters of the biomass power plant. For this, they even applied to the standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife.
As per various forest officials, the factory fell within the ATR’s proposed ecological sensitive zone (ESZ). The officials have forwarded the proposal to the Union environment ministry and a team of the Wildlife Institute of India will also visit the area for ground clearance. After the declaration of the ESZ, most of the factories are subjected to closer scrutiny.
However, the factory’s general manager says that they deal with only paper waste. The unit recycles waste and turns it into new paper. And, paper recycling does not involve any problematic chemicals. Over the last three decades of their operation, no one has ever accused them of harming wildlife or the environment.
But when the New Indian Express team visited the area, they found thick white effluent discharge from the premises of the factory. They even observed the clear footprints of wild animals around the area. So, it means that the discharge is harming the air pollution, wildlife, and the environment. Hopefully, the forest officials will take stringent action against the factory if anything fishy is found against them.