Tannery deaths: Collector asks PCB to close Ambur unit

VELLORE: A day after three tannery workers of Maruthi Leathers at Periyavarikam near Ambur died of asphyxiation, the district administration has recommended the closure of the factory for violating safety rules.

District collector S A Raman said that they have recommended the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) to close down the tannery for engaging workers to clean the sludge manually, which is in contravention of the rules.

"As soon as the order from the TNPCB is received, we will seal the factory. The factory power connection will also be disconnected," said the collector.

Manual cleaning of the hazardous chemicals and sludge is prohibited. Violation of these rules would attract severe action, including the closure of the facility. Though the leather factory had a licence to operate, even having its own effluent treatment plant, it had failed to ensure the safety of the workers and forced inexperienced workers to remove the sludge without any safety gear. This led to the death of Selvam, 23, of Keezh Mitalam, Kothandam, 30, of Banderipalli, and Ranganathan, 41, of Jawahar Nagar in Ambur.

M Panneerselvam, divisional engineer of TNPCB, Vaniyambadi, said that they were awaiting the order from the senior officials of the board to take further course of action. In the meantime, the Ombarabad police have registered a case under Section 174 of the CrPC.

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