Tura(Meghalaya ), Aug 23: The presence of at least 4 cashew processing factories in the town of Phulbari, all within extremely close proximity to residential areas has created a health hazard to which one seems willing to act on.
The result has now been the advent of breathing issues in people living in the areas around the cashew processing units, with many complaining that unless action is taken earnestly, they may all soon be dead due to the adverse effects of the acidic fumes.
There are at least 4 cashew processing units in the Naga Bund – Solairtek area of Phulbari, an area that is extremely dense in population. The factories have been in operation for over a decade despite opposition from the local population of the area.
“It is extremely hazardous for all of us as the acidic fumes of the factories during its operation makes breathing difficult. There are many among us that are already suffering from chronic breathing issues. As most of us are poor, our voices have not been heard,” said a local resident of Naga Bund on condition of anonymity.
The factories lie in absolute close proximity to the nearby houses, even sharing walls with them. Most of the work of cashew processing begins early in the morning and the low chimney height of the exhaust means that acidic fumes circulate within the neighbouring houses.
“We are hardly able to sleep due to the smell as early as 4 AM every day. There are many of us who are already sick and most living just beside us are on the verge of sickness. As to how a factory can be allowed within residential areas is beyond anyone’s understanding. The departments responsible for allowing this to continue should come and live with us for a week to understand how we feel,” added another resident, who also requested anonymity.
Meanwhile, when contacted on the matter, a representative from Commerce and Industries, Government of Meghalaya stated that no permissions for opening a factory is actually required. However there are other departments who can check, including pollution control among others. Sadly, the matter seems to have eluded their knowledge.
Information on the hazard being caused by these unregulated factories has also been made known to the deputy commissioner, though there has been no response from the administration on the matter.