(July 02, 2004)

Under Ganga Action Plan, it was planned to dump the hazardous tannery sludge generated at the 36 MLD CETP (around 40 cu m/day or approx. 40 tonnes /day) at a safe landfill site at Rooma. But most of the sludge which is toxic in nature is simply dumped outside of the treatment plants at Jajmau and some of the sludge (3-4 tonnes per day) is carted away to Rooma. The tannery sludge containing Chromium and other toxicants is piled up in 2 sq km area, and has severely contaminated the groundwater of the area thereby posing threat to the flora, fauna and health of the people of the area. Eco Friends has been demanding a safe disposal of tannery sludge, which is produced by the tanneries and 36 MLD CETP. In the wake of a writ filed by Eco Friends, Allahabad High Court had directed the government to ensure safe disposal of the sludge.

Project Planning & Coordination Unit (PPCU) says that DPR (costing approx. Rs. 2 lakhs) for a landfill site at Rooma has been prepared by Engineers India Limited (EIL), New Delhi. The DPR has been approved by NRCD and the work will start soon. It was decided that till this site comes up, the sludge would be dumped at Rooma by spreading plastic sheets in the allocated pits. But reports suggest that no such precaution is being taken and sludge is being dumped indiscriminately at Rooma and the area adjacent to the treatment plants.

The sludge is a source of pollution and a danger to human health. Most often the inflammable methane trapped inside the sludge catches fire during the summer months, releasing toxins into the air. Summer heat and winds also distribute dust particles from the sludge containing Cr-VI and other toxins that are harmful when inhaled. Chromium from the sludge leaks into the river, subsoil, and groundwater - the primary source of drinking water for the surrounding community.

Khujaoopur village is located close to Rooma Landfill site. Eco Friends conducted a survey in this village and received complaints from almost every family that the indiscriminate dumping of toxic sludge was causing health problems to them.

Eco Friends organized a meeting on 2nd of July at a Primary school in the village

Mohd Owais and Mahipal Singh of Eco Friends explained about the health impacts of ground water contamination to the villagers and told them about the proposed scientific landfill site. They informed the villagers that the chemicals present in the sludge could reach them through ground water and could cause skin and stomach ailments and in long run could also lead to cancer and genetic changes. The villagers were shocked to hear this.

A villager Kamlesh informed that the sludge keeps burning during summer and the toxic fumes released make it difficult for them to breathe. He complained that the KNN people have dumped all the sludge along the only road to the village. Jamuna Devi demanded free health check-up camps for the village.
Baburam informed that almost every child is having some stomach and skin problem.

Eco Friends´ team assured the villagers to highlight their problem. They appealed to the villagers to come forward and get united in their fight against the pollution. Eco Friends further assured them to put pressure on the government so that the proposed landfill site could come up as soon as possible

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