Thursday, December 4, 2008

Biotech major Biocon alleged of ground water pollution

Biotech major Biocon alleged of ground water pollution
India's biotechnology leader Biocon is caught up in a controversy.

Villagers allege the company has polluted air and ground water in the Hebbagodi region, where the company's factory is located. In fact they took out a protest march.

Angry villagers protested Biocon factory in Hebbagodi. Among them was K M Muniratnam, a handicapped fisherman.

Muniratnam says he has sustained huge losses over the last 3 years, as the fish he rears in these lakes are dying due to chemical effluents from the factory.

“I've taken the licence to fish in two lakes here, but there have been at least six occasions when the fish have died. The company told me they'll pay compensation, but I haven’t seen anything.” said Muniratnam.

Hebbagodi residents say they've complained about the contamination before, but no one took notice.

A government analysis last year too shows industrial discharge is harming water quality. So even the local MLA A Narayanswamy, from the ruling BJP, joined in the protest.

President, Hebbagodi Residents' Association Sadashiva Reddy says, “People are suffering from skin diseases, headaches, kidney problems. We have all documentary evidence for that.”

A government assurance to start river water supply to these areas within a month got protestors to put off their strike. But they've threatened to launch an indefinite fast next month.

Meanwhile, company officials say they're being unfairly blamed.

COO, Biocon Arun Chandavarkar say, “What we'd like to emphasise is, Biocon is in no way connected to quality of water. Bad smell has been a problem earlier but now, over last two years, we've taken many steps to reduce the odour.

Water contamination has been a matter of concern for a few years now, but this is the first time protests have spilled on to the streets.

While government intervention has brought about a temporary reprieve, protestors say that's not the end of the story, unless they see change on the ground.

No comments: