Groundwater polluted in Sterlite plant site: Centre

Groundwater polluted in Sterlite plant site: Centre

Gates of the Sterlite Copper plant, in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu.

The groundwater in SIPCOT Industrial Area in Thoothukudi, which houses now-closed Sterlite Copper plant, is contaminated with high TDS and heavy metals like lead which are beyond permissible limits for drinking water, the Centre said on Monday.

In response to a question by Rajya Sabha MP from Tamil Nadu Sasikala Pushpa on whether steps have been taken to check the nature of groundwater in Thoothukudi in the backdrop of anti-Sterlite agitation, the government said the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) has carried out a study to ascertain the quality of groundwater in and around SIPCOT industrial area.

“The study indicates that most of the groundwater samples are contaminated with high TDS and heavy metals like Lead, Cadmium, Chromium, Manganese, Iron and Arsenic, which are beyond permissible limits of BIS Standards for drinking water (IS:10500 of 2012),” Union Minister of State for Water Resources Arjun Ram Meghwal informed the Rajya Sabha.

As per information received from the Central Pollution Control Board, the analysis of groundwater samples, from the Sterlite industrial unit, by the State Pollution Control Board, shows the presence of Iron, Lead, Fluoride, Cadmium and Nickel more than the permissible limit of BIS, said Meghwal.

The minister also said the Central & State Pollution Control Boards are controlling industrial pollution under the provision of Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution), Act, 1974. The statement by the minister assumes significance in the wake of assertions from Sterlite that it was in no way responsible for pollution in Thoothukudi.

Sterlite Copper was closed in May following protests that turned violent resulting in the death of 13 people in police firing. Villagers in and around Sterlite have been demanding the closure of the plant alleging high levels of pollution and water contamination.