Tura, July 30: A cashew nut-processing factory in the West Garo Hills, along the Assam-Meghalaya border, has come under scanner for dumping wastes directly in human habitation in its vicinity.
The factory, located at Nagarbandh village near Phulbari, about 106km from here, has been functioning for nearly eight years.
There are more than 400 households in the area which is densely populated. Two schools are adjacent to the factory. People in the neighbourhood have raised objections as the factory does not have a proper outlet for waste disposal. Wastes are also dumped into a nearby rivulet.
"We are at our wits' end. The factory is the root cause of acute health problems," said a resident.
Over the past several years, eight persons were diagnosed with tuberculosis and many have developed intense breathing problems.
"We have been suffering from bronchitis, TB and asthma after inhaling black acidic smoke belching out of the factory's two-metre-long chimney," another resident complained.
Echoing him, another villager said: "It gets difficult to breathe when they operate the mill as the smell is overpowering. We can hardly open our eyes as the smoke stings our eyes."
Locals have raised objections time and again, but the owner of the factory has turned a blind eye. "He is trying to prove that the land on which the factory has been set up is in Assam, but it is in Meghalaya. But does that really matter? It is still illegal as it is causing immense problems for those who stay nearby," one of the villagers said.
"We have received complaints from the residents of Solartek and Nagarbandh villages and found most of their allegations to be true. We are not against running of the mill. It should be set up in a different location bereft of human habitations. We will be meeting the deputy commissioner of West Garo Hills and request closure of the factory," said Treepon Sangma, president of the Federation of Khasi, Jaintia and Garo People (FKJGP), Phulbari circle.