'UPCL threat to coastal belt'

Addressing a press meet here on Tuesday, State Working Committee member of Indian Medical Association Karnataka branch Dr K Mohandas Bhandary said a five member team comprising Dr K Mohandas Bhandary, Dr (Col) S Jayarama, Dr M Annayya Kulal, Dr Sanjeev Badigar and Dr Nithin Joseph visited villages in and around UPCL on Sunday and found that fly ash is being dumped at the fly ash pond and the ash is carried to the pond by means of tankers.

No pipeline has been laid down by the UPCL for the purpose. The pond is poorly constructed without any impervious lining. This could be the likely cause behind water seepage into the surrounding areas causing water contamination. The people residing in the region have reported salinity of drinking water, Dr Bhandary said.

He said the team observed “fly ash participles and salt over the roof top sheets and vegetation in house premises situated close to the plant. This has resulted in corrosion of the tin sheets covering the roof of houses and of electrical cable covers as well.

People also reported a decline in arecanut yield, destruction of banana plantation, flowers, poor growth of grass and hence minimal fodder for cows following the functioning of this plant.”

After visiting 30 houses in the vicinity, the team detected that people residing in 20 km radius from the plant have reported a number of health ailments causing cough, wheeze and breathlessness, he said.

The team also said that they will submit their observations to the Prime Minister, Chief Minister, Minister for Environment, Udupi District-in-Charge Minister and will recommend IMA to conduct further study.

Team did not visit UPCL plant

To a query, the doctors said that they did not visit the UPCL plant or interacted with any UPCL officials. “Though we called UPCL Administrative Officer, he asked us to call the vice president, who was not reachable,” Dr Bhandary said.

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