Mangaluru: Locals allege fish oil units at Kotepura polluting sea, river

Mohan Kuthar

Daijiworld Media Network – Mangalore (SP / DV)

Mangalore, October 16: Locals have claimed that fish oil production facilities located in Kotepura caused the pollution of the river and sea.

After installing the breakwater in the Ullal and Bengre regions, Ullal began to suffer from marine erosion, they said. “Later, in 1991, the lime kilns used to dry fish and fish oil factories that operated in the Kotepura area were evacuated. The area was later identified as CRZ-1 and converted to fish oil factories. After 14 fish oil factories started their operations here the area suffered from high levels of pollution and 200 to 300 houses in Kotepura had problems, “they said.

Ismail Podimonu, a social worker, had lodged a complaint with the sub-department head’s court. The owners of fish oil plants, in the presence of the environmental officer, agreed to build an environmental treatment plant and to build such a plant for 14 factories at a cost of around 40 rupees. After this unit was established, pollution in the sea and rivers decreased, but now the waste from the factories is back in the sea, local people complained.

Kotepura people say the factories agreed to plant eucalyptus trees according to the agreement before the subdivision official’s court, but this condition was not respected. The factories should install a rule engine that the environmental authorities should inspect and report every month. This is not done either. The express power line connection for factories can be dangerous at any time, they said.

Santosh, a fisherman from Mogaveerapatna, says that the motorists who bring fish to the factories throw water on the road, creating a terrible stench that envelops the whole area. Even after a complaint with the police, the stinking water is still being poured, he added.

Over 500 local and other workers work in these 14 factories. The boilers are located in the immediate vicinity of the furnaces, which is dangerous. Safety measures should be taken and workers should be given safety, the workers demanded.

The activist of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Kabir Ullal, had turned to the bank of the National Green Tribunal in Chennai about the said pollution. The tribunal that took the case ordered the factories to be closed in 2016 as they fall under CRZ rules and the reports submitted have shown the pollution. But the owners of the factories have challenged the order to the Supreme Court, where the verdict is pending.

In an interview with Daijiworld, HK Khader, President of the Fish Oil Mill Association, said: “Normally there is a fish odor while the vehicles are transporting the fish to the fish oil plants. It is not up to the production to install bio-filters in the systems, there is no odor nuisance during production.

“The people who complain will continue to complain. It will never end. These people are after us personally. There is a pollution control department that takes care of these matters. All of these questions are monitored by the state and the central environmental authority via the online system. If there is a problem, they will notify us. There is no fish odor in any system during production.

“In the past, wastewater was discharged into the sea after treatment. But now we are producing by-products from wastewater. The water we drain is condensed. Meanwhile, the production of fish oil has become a competitive business. If you do not use the wastewater for by-products, you have to accept rupee losses in the company. This business used to be limited to Mangaluru and Udupi. Several plants have now grown in Tamil Nadu. You have conquered the top position in production. Seven plants have also emerged in Kerala. There are also nearly 14 plants in Maharashtra, ”he said.

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