Thursday, November 30, 2006

Day 2 – First milestone, Pondicherry

– As reported by Nityanand Jayaraman

The day stated as usual, two cycles broke down and had to be loaded onto the car and sent to Semankuppam for repairs. The trip to Semankuppam was excellent we were in the right time for pamphleteering, it was morning time and people were either at bus stops leaving for work or having their morning tea.

Murali and Madesh from Mettur were on a pamphleteering spree and were risking their lives to make sure everyone in sight got one. Murali's mother Dhanabagyam is an ex-worker of the Chemplast factory in Mettur and is suffering from uterine cancer and has had absolutely no help from the company. Murali's son Samivel was exposed to a deadly chlorine gas leak when he was just 20 days old, now he has to depend on a high dose of medication for the rest of his life.

Whats Smelling

After breakfast at Pudiyankuppam we passed by the Chemplast site where construction was on at full swing. We had to take a bathroom break on the site to honor all the people who had made Chemplast a reality in Cuddalore. We could smell SPICs shit odour already though we were 3 kms away from the factory so we decided to travel to the source of the smell which brought us to Eachangadu where SPIC is situated. From Eachangadu we went behind the SPIC factory and we were in for a really nasty surprise. The smell here was so intense that all of us began suffocating and gasping for air. The monitors have a system of rating these odours on a scale of 1 to 10 based on their intensity. We gave the odour an 8 but the monitors said that this was only a 5, an 8 would be much worse than this.

Meeting with the MLA

At 12:15 we headed for the town to meet with the local MLA Iyyappan at 12:45pm. The wind in SIPCOT was gusty and against us but we had to cycle like crazy to make it in time for the meeting. The meeting with the MLA was really explosive. Madesh from Mettur spoke about Chemplast and its impact on Mettur's agriculture, water and economy all of which are now destroyed. After a patient hearing the MLA began with his spiel and said "the company claims that all these allegations are motivated and untrue, there are so many engineers working in this company and going all offensive against just one company is not the right way to go about things, the government will never do anything wrong for its people. You people should be engaged in more constructive things like planting trees".

We were not to give up that easy if this is what Mr. MLA had to say so we began shooting questions and in a tizzy Mr. MLA had to go but not before offering water and biscuits to the cyclists. We decided to make a point and began walking out after dropping the biscuits back into the box and leaving the water bottle behind on the table. Mr. MLA ran out of his room and stopped us. He requested us to stop behaving in this fashion and said that he was pro people and pro poor and that he would do the right thing for the people of Cuddalore. He also assured that he would raise the issue in the assembly and also with the appropriate people at the appropriate time.

Mahatma Gandhi Hospital and Medical College

From Cuddalore town we headed to the next destination, Pondicherry. En route we halted at Kirumbakkam which was also an industrial area but residents here narrated a unique story. They were sharing their neighborhood with the Mahatma Gandhi Hospital & Medical College and the Arupadai Veedu Hospital & Medical College both of these were a blight on the landscape. Both the hospitals are water intensive and are severely burdening the ground water. In addition to this they also release their effluents onto the land, the Arupadai Veedu Hospital even injects them into the ground.

Here we met the local lake committee who offered their support and solidarity to the residents of SIPCOT. Nityanand spoke about medical waste and the problems arising during their disposal.

First milestone – Pondicherry

We had a public meeting at Pondicherry hosted by the Pondicherry Science Forum, CITU, DYFI and local organizations. They all spoke against mindless industialisation, and chemical industries and demanded more labour intensive industries. Nityanand, Mani and Parasuraman spoke about toxic industries and their impact on the environment. Nityanand made a special mention about the youth who formed the major part of the tour participants. Lot of them had lied to get permission from their colleges to participate in the tour. The day ended at 9 pm after a screening at Mettupalayam.

We will spend the night at the CPI office. Tomorrow is going to be more relaxed as we have to cover only 40kms so a bunch of us are heading out to the beach early morning.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Renowned Tamil poetess Kanimozhi inaugurates 1000 Bhopals photo exhibition

The inauguration of the 1000 Bhopals exhibition at Lalit Kala Akademy was a great success. We had Ms. K. Kanimozhi, renowned poetess and daughter of Tamilnadu Chief Minister Mr. K. Karunanidhi inaugurate the exhibition. We introduced her to the issue and updated her about the situation in Bhopal and also explained to her the situation in Cuddalore and other toxic hotpots in Tamilnadu.
She was shocked to see stark images especially from Kasergode in Kerala and the Golden Corridor in Gujarat, which were a grim reminder of the fact that we were not moving in the right direction with development.
There were about 90 exhibits in all including paintings from children of SIPCOT Cuddalore and school children from Chennai.
Ms. Kanimozhi suggested that we talk about these issue of pollution and toxics with more people especially school children in order to generate an opinion about the issue. She also said that some of the images were really heart wrenching and something needs to be done to set things right. All the major media was present at the launch to catch a glimpse of Kanimozhi.
School children from KRMM School who were part of the school out reach program also visited the exhibition later during the day to view their paintings, which were on display among the other paintings.

Photo Credit: Jaison G, Deccan Chronicle, Chennai.


Media stories on cycle rally

Cycle rally to mark Bhopal tragedy-The Hindu

Special Correspondent

To create awareness on need for safe industries

CUDDALORE: A cycle rally, from Cuddalore to Chennai, was flagged off on Tuesday by Kolathur Mani, Periyar Dravida Kazhagam leader, to mark the Bhopal gas leak disaster (occurred on December 3,1984) and to protest against the concentration of pollution causing units in the SIPCOT Industrial Estate here.

The rally, in which 20 cyclists are participating, is intended to create awareness among the people about the need for safe industries that will not defile environment.

The rallyists will pedal their way through Puducherry, Tindivanam, Chengalpattu and reach Chennai on December 3. On December 4, a conference will be held in Chennai , focussing on the environmental degradation caused by various industries, with particular reference to Cuddalore.

Addressing the rallyists, Mr. Kolathur Mani said because of serious pollution it would not be an exaggeration to term Cuddalore as another Bhopal in the making. Mettur too was facing a similar predicament, because of the proliferation of the pollution causing units.

Mr. Mani called upon the State Government to strictly enforce the pollution control rules. For the sake of providing 300-500 jobs, the lives of five lakh families should not be put at peril. Instead, the Government should promote environment-friendly and labour-intensive industries.

Chairman of District Environmental Protection Organisation for Right Tackling (DEPORT) M. Nizamudeen said the existing chemical units in the SIPCOT Industrial Estate had already caused irreparable damage to air, soil and water.

Despite the directive of the Supreme Court, the NEERI and other agencies, no efforts seemed to have been made to check pollution.

Mr. Nizamudeen further said the proposal to set up a polyvinyl chloride factory, an oil refinery and a textile park in the industrial estate would further aggravate the pollution problem.

Those, who support the rally, include the SIPCOT Community Social and Environmental Monitoring Group, Cuddalore District Consumer Protection Organisation, The Other Media, Exnora, and Meenavar Viduthalai Vengaigal.

Cycle rally to create eco-awareness - New Indian Express

Wednesday November 29 2006 00:00 IST

CUDDALORE: A five-day cycle rally aimed at creating awareness on environmental issues was flagged off here on Tuesday.

The participants will cover Cuddalore, Villupuram, Kancheepuram, Puducherry and Chennai districts.

President of Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam Kolathur Mani and chairman, District Environmental Protection Organisation for Right Tackling, M Nizamudeen flagged off the rally.

The participants will create an awareness among the people on the threats faced by people due to the establishment of industries of various kinds at the SIPCOT.

With the decks being cleared for the setting up of a mega PVC plant, marine terminal, desalination plant, coal-fired thermal power plant and a textile park in SIPCOT, the forum feared that the industries would pose a threat to the environment and marine life.

Members of the SIPCOT Area Community Environmental Monitoring Group, West Konur Farmers’ Welfare Association, Manali Youth Exnora, Kattukuppam Civic Exnora, Meenavar Viduthalai Vengaikal, Tamil Nadu Meenavar Munnetra Sangam and South India Meenavar Welfare Association, are among the participants.

Besides creating awareness, the group would also screen films on environmental protection at Chithraipettai, Periyapattu, Thyagavalli, Puducherry, Tindivanam, Chengalpattu and Besant Nagar.

Cyclist discover the beauty of Puduchatram, the proposed location for the SIMA textile park

Update Day2: 29 November 2006, morning from Puduchatram

From Nity: We set off for our next destination to Cuddalore New Town at 7:30 am half hour past the scheduled time. Some of us were up at 4 am to fulfil the morning duties while others not so keen on attnending the call woke up at 6. We are 6 km away from Perangipettai which was one of the worst affected during the killer tsunami two years ago. Puduchatram, where we spent the night, is extremely rich in groundwater since its aquifers are spring fed. The groundwater here however has been contaminated post tsunami due to the saline intrusion. The groundwater here is so high that toilets cannot be dug very deep for the fear they might hit the water table. Puduchatram is where the SIMA textile park is proposed to be set up as part of the SIPCOT phase III expansion since the area is very rich in groundwater. Puduchatram is about 4 km away from Samiarpettai. The mainstay in Puduchatram is agriculture like cashew and paddy.

The living conditions at here were very basic and we had to make do with one toilet for 25 of us. Some of us found space in the warandah of a large building, huddled up all together since the climate was quite cool.

More about SIMA textile park:

Textile Park by South India Mills Association: Earlier this year, the Madras High Court threatened to close down nearly 737 textile units in Tiruppur because of their pollution. The companies had destroyed the groundwater in the entire town, and sucked dry wells in towns as far as way as Palladam. The River Noyyal now carries toxic effluents, and an entire dam ­ the Orathupalayam Reservoir ­ is now brimming with effluents from Tirupur’s textile units.

Rather than clean up, the Government is encouraging these companies to do two things. First, new and big dyeing industries are being encouraged to shift to Cuddalore. Already 300 acres of land have been allotted to 15 units. These bleaching and dyeing units will destroy both agriculture and fisheries in the area. Fisheries will suffer because the companies plan to discharge the multicoloured toxic effluents into the sea between Samiarpettai and Parangipettai. Agriculture will suffer because the companies will suck out vast amounts of groundwater for their process. Moreover, the companies plan to set up a coal-fired power plant, which will discharge hot water into the sea, and contribute to tremendous air pollution. Sulphur dioxide emissions from power plants will kill agriculture.

Second, the Government has also approved plans to pump textile effluents from Erode and Tiruppur to the sea in Cuddalore. That means the effluents will travel nearly 400 km to avoid polluting the agricultural lands enroute, and fall into the sea in Cuddalore.


1000 Bhopals Photo Exhibition Launched by Kanimozhi

Chennai November 29, 2006 - Renowned poet Ms. Kanimozhi launched the '1000 Bhopals' photo exhibition at the Lalit Kala Akademy today. The exhibition that displayed images from various toxic hotspots across India is part of the week long activities organized by the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal as a lead up to the 22nd Anniversary of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy.

The photo and painting exhibition primarily focuses on chemical pollution and its impact on human and environmental health and aims at raising awareness of the general public about the consumption of chemicals and its impact on the future generations and on people who share their backyards with facilities that make such chemicals. Though the exhibit displays images of Endosulphan poisoning in Kasargode, Kerala and chemical pollution from the Golden Corridor in Gujarat, the main focus is on Tamilnadu where places like Cuddalore, Mettur, Manali and Chengelpet are severely impacted by industrial pollution.

The exhibition also aims to generate public opinion on further expansion of SIPCOT Cuddalore that is already reeling under pollution from the 19 chemical industries that it houses. Air samples taken inside the estate revealed the presence of at least 25 toxic chemicals including 8 carcinogens, some at levels 20,000 times above those prescribed by the US Environment Protection Agency.

There are plans underway to divert 4 toxic and 2 industrial infrastructure projects to SIPCOT Cuddalore including a 170,000 tons per annum PVC plant, a six million tons per annum oil refinery, a 4000MW coal-fired power plant, a Textile Park a la Tiruppur and pipelines to pump effluents from leather tanneries in Ambur-Vaniyambadi and Tiruppur textile dyeing units into the Cuddalore sea.

The exhibition is on until the 4th of December 2006 between 10am and 5pm at Lalit Kala Akademy No. 4 Greams Road, Thousand Lights, Chennai.

For more information contact Dharmesh Shah - 9444416546

Issued by: SIPCOT Area Community Environmental Monitoring, Cuddalore District Consumer Protection Organisation, DEPORT, Youth for Social Change and The Other Media. Supported by: West Gonur Farmers Welfare Association, Manali Youth Exnora, Students from Chennai, Liberation Tigers of Fisherfolks, South India Fishermen Welfare Association, Tamilnadu Meenavar Munnetra Kazhagam, Human Rights Initaitive of Tamilnadu, Pondycherry Unit of DYFI, Pondicherry Science Forum, Guide Chengalpet, Thandai Periyar Dravida Kazhagam.

Supported by: West Gonur Farmers Welfare Association, Manali Youth Exnora, Students from Chennai, Liberation Tigers of Fisherfolks, South India Fishermen Welfare Association, Tamilnadu Meenavar Munnetra Kazhagam, Human Rights Initaitive of Tamilnadu, Pondycherry Unit of DYFI, Pondicherry Science Forum, Guide Chengalpet, Thandai Periyar Dravida Kazhagam.


Cycle tour flagged off successfully by local leader Kolathur Mani

Report From Nityanand Jayaraman: DAY 1, 11:00 pm

We set off on schedule at 11.00 am and the first cycle crisis occurred within 20 meters of the start. We got cycle fixed at Old Town, Cuddalore and carried on. Earlier the flag off was good with a decent media response. Main group representatives spoke about the situation in Cuddalore but S. Ramanathan of SACEM ended the meeting with a memorable statement "they say that if the country wants to develop the youth need to dream, in SIPCOT youth beg of a good nights sleep in order to dream.

Kolathur Mani introduced the people of Mettur at the launch he said that people living next to Chemplast's PVC factory find life very difficult and that they have come in solidarity to the people of Cuddalore. They have forfeited their daily wages to be with the residents of Cuddalore and join them in the struggle. The representatives from Mettur included Madhusudhanan, father of M. Samivel who was exposed to a deadly Chlorine gas leak when he was just 20 days old. The representatives from the West Gonur Farmers Association spoke about the condition of agriculture in Mettur. All wells are polluted in the vicinity of Chemplast and nearly 5000 acres of land has been wasted. The company does not even have an ambulance for emergencies like their frequent Chlorine gas leaks due to which many residents have been seriously injured and hospitalized. The farmers also said that they have been living with Chemplast for the past 50 years and that it is extremely dishonest in their dealings with the local people.

En route participants met and spoke to passers by and people at local stalls about the purpose of their journey. They also stopped at all roadside tea stalls and zealously spoke about the problems of SIPCOT Cuddalore and about its relevance to Bhopal.

We passed the SIPCOT chemical complex but since the wind was blowing south to south east we could not smell the industries on the ECR. Despite this there were occasional strong whiffs from Shasun and Tantech. Two smells were the most noticeable, Shasun's strong detergent like smell and SPICs characteristic shit like smell that shocked people.

Just before lunch-time at Sangolikuppam, Gaana Vijay sang a Tamil Song 'Naarde Naarde' that literally means 'it smells it smells' for the people waiting for food, an appropriate song for the kinds of smells that lingered in the air.

After lunch we set off for Thyagavalli Panchayat where upon arrival the local elected representatives who had issued a resolution against Chemplast's proposal in Cuddalore greeted us. We were also offered refreshments which were basically local drinks filled into Coke and Sprite bottles, a neat home grown way of defeating the multinationals. We also drank tender coconut water in Thyagavalli and it tasted absolutely fantastic in complete contrast to the tender coconut in SIPCOT. The reason for this according to the locals is the absence of industries in Thyagavalli. Similar experiences have also been felt in Mettur where the groundwater has been heavily contaminated.

From Thyagavalli we reached Ambedkar Nagar for a brief period the ride overall was extremely pleasant with a gentle cool breeze flowing throughout. The sun was pretty harsh during some parts of the day and some of the participants suffered burns.

The next stop was Chitrapettai. Here we had to go door to door to invite people for the program. Kosu Mani of Tamilnadu Meenavar Munnetra Kazhagam, A. Mani of west Gonur Farmers Association and Kolathur Mani spoke about the situation in SIPCOT Cuddalore. Following which the LCD projector was set up for the film screening only to discover that the power plug was missing and after a 20 minute long attempt to fix the glitch plans for the screening had to be abandoned. On departure the police at Chitrapettai escorted us to the main road and cautioned us for speeding vehicles and asked us to maintain a single file as long as we were on the road.

By now it was dark and 3 cycles gave way. We somehow dragged them to Puduchatram, our halt for the night. Here the local people were not intimated so there were no arrangements for dinner so we all set off in different directions and finally found the last few Dosais in Puduchatram for dinner. This did not in anyway dampen the sprits; its 10:45 pm and people are still up and chatting. We are on the veranda of a large building in Puduchatram where we will spend the night, we have only one toilet for 25 of us. Natures calls will have to be answered on the road side as we need to be on the road by 7am in order to stick to the schedule.

Bill Clinton to visit Cuddalore

Clinton to visit to tsunami-affected countries - The Hindu

...Clinton's office said on Monday, he will first travel to Cuddalore on December one to see a new housing complex constructed for fishermen whose homes were destroyed by the tsunami and a rehabilitated school. He will also visit a cyclone shelter with a newly installed early warning system and witness an early warning test and mock drill more>>

Clinton to visit India in December - NDTV

Clinton to visit tsunami affected areas in December - Zee News

Clinton to make final visit to tsunami-affected countries as U.N. envoy - International Herald Tribune

Clinton to make final visit to tsunami-affected countries as UN envoy
- Garavi Gujarat

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Cycle Rally

For the past several days I have been updating the blog on issues related to industrial pollution in SIPCOT Cuddalore. A cycle rally is to start from Cuddalore today to commemorate the Bhopal tragedy. The rally will be ending in Chennai on December 2nd. There are various events planned on the way, including the film screening. Extend your support by ensuring your presence. The details of route and schedule can be found in Remember Bhopal;Fight for Cuddalore article.

Cycling for Green

Leading up to the 22nd Bhopal anniversary, touth from fishing communities and colleges of Chennai, along with environmental activists and residents from pollution-impacted communities in Mettur and Cuddalore, will cycle 280km from Cuddalore to Chennai starting 28 November, 2006. Jessie Bhangoo presents an audio introduction to the roadshow. Click here to listen.

Toxic Truck Spotted in Cuddalore-SACEM

27 November, 2006. Cuddalore -- A truck carrying a hazardous chemical powder was found parked for more than 30 minutes without driver or cleaner near Sellankuppam at 11 a.m. today. SACEM member G.K. Amrithalingam who reported the incident said shopkeepers and commuters experienced severe irritation of the throat due to the fine white powder that was being released as dust from the truck. Upon their return, the driver and cleaner were asked to take the vehicle out. The vehicle (License No. TN31H 1687) was carrying cargo loaded at TANFAC Ltd in SIPCOT, and was destined to Andhra Pradesh.
The vehicle made another tense 15 minute stop near the railway overbridge at Chavadi, before proceeding towards SIPCOT. Monitors in SIPCOT area have been alerted and asked to keep an eye out for the vehicle.
The driver was unaware about the nature of the cargo. That in itself and the insecure manner in which the cargo was being carried is a violation of the Hazardous Chemicals Rules, and the guidelines for transporting hazardous chemicals. SACEM has alerted the Assistant Environmental Engineer about the incident.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Local Government Resolves Against Chemplast PVC factory

By Nityanand Jayaraman
Cuddalore, 26 November, 2006 -- Thyagavelli Panchayat, in which the marine terminal facility for Chemplast Sanmar's PVC factory is to be set up, resolved on 14.11.2006 against the Chemplast PVC factory. In doing so, they have dealt a major blow to the company's plans. Before undertaking any construction, project promoters are required to secure the consent of Grama Panchayats, according to the Tamilnadu Panchayat Rules. Fishing villages, particularly Chitrapettai through which a pipeline carrying hazardous raw material will pass, are upset that the Tamilnadu Government permitted the company to set up a plant and jetty that would affect fisheries without consulting the fisherfolk. The company separated the PVC plant and the marine terminal facility proposals. While a public hearing was held for the PVC facility, the company bypassed local communities and secured an environmental clearance for the marine terminal facility directly from the Union Ministry of Environment & Forests.

Fishing communities in Cuddalore have resolved to defeat the company's plans for a PVC plant in Cuddalore. Fishing villages in Pondicherry, Kanchipuram and Chennai have also extended their support to the fisherfolk from Cuddalore.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Folk Song on Cuddalore Pollution (Tamil)

by Nityanand Jayaraman

"Gana Vijay's Villu Paattu -- a folk music form from Tamilnadu literally translated as "bow song" -- evokes the beauty and bounty of Cuddalore, and quickly switches to explain the current where the once-productive River Uppanar has no fish, the goats are dying and the chicken are sick -- all because of pollution. This is a sample from Gana Vijay's diverse portfolio."
Gana Vijay heating his "Parai" over a gas
stove. Parai is a percussion instrument made
using raw buffalo hide drawn taut over a ring.

If you're interested in learning more about Villu Paattu, visit:

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Remember Bhopal;

Fight for Cuddalore

Youth on Cycles for Cuddalore – 28 November to 2 December

Cuddalore is another Bhopal in the making. Youth from Chennai, Cuddalore and Mettur will cycle from Cuddalore to Chennai to raise awareness about the environmental issues confronting residents of SIPCOT, Cuddalore, and highlight the threats of pollution-intensive industrialization facing Cuddalore. The cycle tour will travel through the coastal areas of Cuddalore, Pondicherry and parts of Kanchipuram and Chennai districts, and through the inland areas along GST Road. Kindly extend your support to the cycle tour by organizing solidarity activities en route.

Distance to be covered – 280 km

Route and Schedule

28 November: Flag Off from Cuddalore Town. (Route: Old Town, Pachaiyankuppam, Thaikal, CUSECS 6, Rajapettai, Chitrapettai, Naduthittu, Thyagavelli, Thiruchopuram, Periyakuppam, Tamanampettai, Ayyampettai, Poochimedu, Periyapattu, Cuddalore Town). Film screening: Chitrapettai, Thyagavelli, Periyapattu. Night Halt: Periyapattu

29 November:
Periyapattu to Sonnanchavadi, Semmankuppam, Sangolikuppam, Eachangadu, Kudikadu, Devanampattinam, Thazhanguda, Pondicherry. Film screening/Night Halt: Pondicherry

30 November:
Pondy to Marakkanam, Tindivanam. Film screening/Night halt: Tindivanam

1 December:
Tindivanam to Madurantakam, Chengalpattu. Film screening/Night halt: Chengalpattu

2 December:
Chengalpattu to Kovalam, Besant Nagar. Film screening: Besant Nagar

December 3 is the 22nd anniversary of the 1984 Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal. In the lead-up to the anniversary of the world’s worst industrial disaster, the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (Chennai) and its supporters wish to highlight Cuddalore as a Bhopal in our own backyard.

The Tamilnadu Government has earmarked coastal Cuddalore for locating the dirtiest, most hazardous industries in Tamilnadu. Already, an 8 km stretch of the district – the SIPCOT industrial estate -- is seriously affected by pollution from more than 19 chemical industries. The State Human Rights Commission and the Indian People’s Tribunal on Environment and Human Rights have observed that SIPCOT residents are already overburdened with pollution. They have recommended against setting up any more chemical industries in the area.

Despite massive public protest and the recommendations of various expert agencies, the Tamilnadu Government is planning to intensify pollution in and around SIPCOT. In the pipeline, are the following proposals:

  1. Chemplast PVC factory and marine terminal, and desalination plant, Semmankuppam and Chitrapettai
  2. 4000MW coal-fired thermal power plant, Naduthittu
  3. A mega textile park, Periyapattu
  4. A 6 million tones per annum petrochemical refinery by Nagarjuna, Thyagavelli
  5. Effluents pumped into sea from Tiruppur textile dyeing units
  6. Effluents pumped into sea from Ambur-Vaniyambadi leather tanneries
  7. A shipbuilding yard

For more information on Bhopal and Cuddalore

Email -


Issued by:

SIPCOT Area Community Environmental Monitoring, Cuddalore District Consumer Protection Organisation, DEPORT, Youth for Social Change, The Other Media

c/o 42A, 1st Floor, 5th Avenue, Besant Nagar, Chennai 600 090

Massive explosion in Loyal Super Fabrics; - SACEM

Locals block road; demand closure of the company

Cuddalore, 22 November 2006: A massive explosion at Loyal Super Fabrics rocked the SIPCOT Industrial estate at around 12 noon today. The explosion took place at a newly set-up oil boiler of the unit and was followed by a fire that ravaged sections of the unit. According to SACEM, whose monitors arrived on the scene immediately, the fire was difficult to control. It took 8 fire fighting vehicles more than 2 hours to bring the fire under control. Officials of the TNPCB were present at the spot, but no representative from the Factories Inspectorate visited the site.

Residents of Kudikadu village, the community worst affected by Loyal, and representatives of Pattali Makkal Katchi, a political party, blocked the road outside the unit in the afternoon demanding immediate closure of the unit.

A September 2006 public hearing report observed that local youth and residents were very agitated about the pollution caused by the factory, and the inability of the TNPCB to rein in the pollution. Like many other factories in Tamilnadu, Loyal too has no valid Consent to operate. Loyal’s consent expired in 1998, and has not been renewed since.

Pursuant to community pressure, Loyal came under the TNPCB’s scanner and was shut down in the month of July for not following the Consent conditions. The unit was eventually reopened conditionally for two months in August 2006 and the later its operations were extended till 10 December 2006.

Numerous reports of pollution from this unit and other factories in SIPCOT have been systematically ignored by the government. Rather than curb pollution, the Government is approving more and more polluting factories to come up in residential and agricultural areas in Cuddalore.

The Loyal explosion comes at an ominous time, less than 10 days before the 22nd anniversary of the Union Carbide gas disaster in Bhopal.

Read earlier reports here:

Loyal Super Fabrics operations extended for two months

TNPCB issues closure order for Loyal Super Fabrics

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Death of a Community Foretold

"Death of a Community Foretold" is a story about a pocket of Cuddalore's coastal countryside, where the residents live in the shadows of chemical industries. The SIPCOT chemical industrial estate is the smelly armpit of industrial civilization. This is a story of a frustrated community struggling to get the Government to save them from the industrial pollution. The Government has other plans. Cuddalore has been earmarked to accommodate the most polluting industries, including a PVC plastic factory. All that the community wants is a clean environment and healthy children. But that, we're told, is economically unviable.


The video content is divided into 3 parts.

For smooth viewing, start the video and pause it immediately to let it render, and playback after sometime.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Following are the direct links to the videos

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

The script for embedding these videos into blog/website can the found to the right of the corresponding videos.

If you're concerned and want to help:



Tel: +91 9444082401

Friday, November 10, 2006

Cuddalore – Toxic Present; Troubled Future
By Nityanand Jayaraman

Cuddalore, the place by the sea, is soon set to be assaulted. Some of the dirtiest industries – chemical factories, petrochemical refineries, shipbuilding yard, textile dyeing units, and coal-fired power plants – are making a beeline for Cuddalore. The Tamilnadu Government has earmarked Cuddalore district for locating polluting industries. Their argument: Cuddalore is already polluted. So let's concentrate all polluting industries in this district, thereby saving the rest of Tamilnadu from pollution.

Fact aside, that only one part of Cuddalore – the SIPCOT Industrial Estate in Pachaiyankuppam, Kudikadu and Semmankuppam panchayats – is polluted. The rest of Cuddalore is home to white-sand beaches, dense mangroves, lazy rivers, cashew groves and casuarinas.

I have heard about this decision to sacrifice Cuddalore repeated often. At least two chairpersons of the Tamilnadu Pollution Control Board have admitted over the last 8 years that Cuddalore's fate is sealed. . .that a decision to sacrifice Cuddalore has been taken at the highest levels.

Indiscriminate dumping of toxic wastes has spoilt agricultural fields and groundwater.

The kind of industrialization that is planned for Cuddalore will mean the death of Cuddalore as we know it. Pollution-intensive industrialization has its beneficiaries in far-away places. The local people and the local economy will take a punishing beating.

On the one hand, people dependent on water and land for a livelihood – fishers and farmers – will lose their source of income. On the other, the ill-health caused by a poisoned environment will mean fewer work days, and higher medical expense

There are industries, and there are industries. Industries that destroy local resources, poison the air, water and land will eventually impoverish the local people rather than lend to their prosperity.

How do I know? Because we have experience of this kind of chemical-intensive industrialization in Cuddalore, and we know that it has made local people poorer.

All you have to do is check out the 8 km stretch south of Pachaiyankuppam on the Cuddalore-Chidambaram Highway. The SIPCOT industrial estate located here has been judged by many as ranking among the smelliest places in India. About 19 chemical industries, manufacturing pesticides, pharmaceuticals, dye chemicals, explosives, gelatin and sundry chemicals, spew out noxious air emissions and liquid effluents.

Contaminated groundwater does not spare even the utensils it is stored in.

Just as Eskimos have a thousand words to describe the snow, SIPCOT residents have numerous descriptions for the various smells that assault their senses day-long. SPIC smells of shit; Tagros smells like a hospital; Shasun smells like rotten cabbage, rotten eggs; Pioneer Miyagi smells like a decomposing corpse; Asian Paints smells like sapota fruit. Then there are other smells – nail polish, rotten egg, fruity odours. In all, the SIPCOT Area Community Environmental Monitors (SACEM) – a team of five villagers trained in environmental monitoring – have identified at least 36 odours emanating from the SIPCOT industries.

Surely, progress can't be this smelly. These smells are not merely a nuisance; anybody that tells you that is lying. Odours are indicators of pollution, of chemicals in the air. Hydrogen sulphide, a deadly gas, has a characteristic rotten egg odour. The nail polish odour indicates the presence of acetone. Rotten cabbage is the smell of your cooking gas resulting from the chemical methyl mercaptan. The shit smell means the presence of a category of chemicals called Indoles.

Indeed, when samples of the ambient air in SIPCOT was sent to the United States for analysis by SACEM, at least 25 chemicals were discovered. Eight of them are known to cause cancer. These include – chloroform, methylene chloride, trichloroethylene, 1,2-dichloroethane, carbon tetrachloride, vinyl chloride, bromomethane and benzene.

1,2-dichloroethane was more than safe levels by a factor of 22,973; chloroform was above safe levels by a factor of 5119.

At least 13 of the chemicals found are used as raw material in one or more industries. In other words, toxic chemicals are constantly spilling out of the factories through chimneys and various other leaks and contaminating the air breathed by more than 20,000 people.

The effects are there for all to see. Children in the SIPCOT villages can be seen with rheumy eyes, running noses and rashes on the skin. The eye and nose disorders are indicative of upper respiratory tract problems – a likely sign of air pollution. Anecdotal evidence gathered during the visit of Justice J. Kanakaraj and team as part of the Indian People's Tribunal revealed shocking information. Women in SIPCOT were reporting menstrual irregularities, delayed onset of puberty among girls, compromised physical development among boys, widespread dental and skin problems.

These long-term effects pale in front of the acute effects people experience when the air pollution gets intense. "We can't breathe; it feels like somebody is sitting on your chest. Whatever is in the air burns your eyes, tears through your nose and sets your lungs on fire. At least we can hold a cloth to our nose; imagine the fate of infants," said one irate mother from Eachangadu, a village surrounded on three sides by smelly factories.

Several 100 acres of fertile farm land have been abandoned because ground water in the entire SIPCOT area is contaminated, and the lands are awash with effluents and toxic waste. The River Uppanar, once the lifeline for more than 8 villages of inland fisherfolk, is now a faint shadow of its original productive self. Ask any fisherman and he will rattle off the names of at least 30 kinds of fishes that used to be found in the River. Now, less than 8 commercial species are found.

In all this, the TNPCB and the State Government have played villains, colluding with the polluters and punishing residents when they complain about pollution. Many of the industries function outside the law. CUSECS -- a company that was set up with Government participation to collect treated effluents and discharge it into the Bay of Bengal -- is completely illegal. It has no permits whatsoever. Information about quality of effluents discharged from CUSECS was recently obtained by SACEM using Right to Information. That information revealed that CUSECS was not merely illegal, but was discharging highly toxic and untreated effluents into the sea. The long-term effect on fisheries and consumers of Cuddalore fish can be devastating.

A fisherman displays a fish damaged by pollutants in the River Uppanar

The verdict on Cuddalore is straightforward. The State Human Rights Commission, the Indian People's Tribunal headed by Justice J. Kanakaraj, and various other agencies both Governmental and non-Governmental have said that Cuddalore is overpolluted, and the people are ill. They have recommended that no further polluting industries be allowed in Cuddalore. But nobody is listening.

Despite intense opposition, the Government is pushing ahead with a proposal by Chemplast Sanmar to set up a factory to manufacture PVC plastic. PVC is one of the most toxic plastics. Its production, usage and disposal are all associated with the release of highly toxic chemicals, including dioxins and furans which are the most toxic chemicals known to science.

The scenic sand dunes of Naduthittu are earmarked for a ultra-mega coal-fired thermal plant which will throw out tones of sulphur dioxide into the air, and release a flyash slurry that will convert the bountiful ocean floor into a concrete cemetery.

Effluents from Tirupur textile units, and from the Ambur-Vaniyambadi leather tanneries are also rumoured to be making their way to the Cuddalore seas via long-distance pipelines. All in all, Cuddalore is set to become the smelly, sweaty armpit of industrial civilization.

Some may call this progress or development. But for the people who live in Cuddalore, this is hell. The ones that can afford to have already left Cuddalore. The unfortunate ones and the elderly have no option but to stay in what has now become a gas chamber.

Young fishermen in the River Uppanar. Will the river still be alive when these boys grow up?

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Up and running

A couple of weeks back NinA wrote about 'Manjakuppam mani koondu' not working and that the clock was removed from the tower. Now the clock has been fixed and is back to life again. Thanks to the steps taken by the district administration.

File photo

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Cuddalore to have ship building yard - News Today

The Chennai-based Good Earth Maritime Ltd has proposed to invest Rs 1,000 crore in Cuddalore for setting up a world class ship building yard and had applied to Tamilnadu Maritime Board for project clearance.

In connection with the project, Anandan, chairman and managing director of the company and Dr Shin, its technical advisor and also chairman of Korea Maritime Consultants, met the Chief Minister M Karunanidhi at the Secretariat today.

According to an official release, out of the proposed investment, Rs 500 crore would be invested in the first phase and the yard would employ nearly 5,000 people directly and give indirect employment to 20,000 full story>>

High corruption level largely affecting poor

High corruption level largely affecting poor - Times of India

CUDDALORE: The high level of corruption found in government offices in India, including the police and judicial services largely affects the poor, director of the Tamil Nadu state judicial academy S Vimala said on Tuesday.

Inaugurating a week-long vigilance awareness week, organised by the Neyveli Lignite Corporation, she quoted a recent survey which stated that an amount of 21,068 crore was received by government officials each year. A proper mindset is needed to eradicate corruption which ideally should not exist in a democratic country, she said.

Vimala said that people have to wait for too long to get justice in India. This was due to the fact that there was only one judge for one lakh people.

NLC chairman-cum Managing Director S Jayaraman said NLC follows clear cut procedures for every purchase and awarding of contracts. "To avoid corruption, NLC has been implementing e-procure methods for purchase of materials," he said.

Copyright ©2006Times Internet Limited.

Textile mills seek announced power cuts to maintain production - The Hindu

.......... Speaking at an interactive session on technical textiles and manpower training held here recently, he said the textile-processing park proposed by the association at Cuddalore aimed at about Rs. 750 crore investment.

The project also looked at marine discharge of treated effluents from the units.

Mr. Arumugam appealed to the State Government for speedy environmental clearances so that the project could take off at the earliest full story>>

Monday, November 06, 2006

Grim reality

Sewage workers clearing the clogged drainage line without any protective clothing.

Photo courtesy of Vinoth Thiyagarajan.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

T.R. Baalu sanctions repair works on NH-45 A


The Union Minister of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways, Thiru T.R. Baalu has approved Special Repair Works from km 87/00 to km 93/00 and from km 104/00 to km 109/00 of NH 45 A at Parangipettai and Bhuvanagiri-Chidambaram Section respectively in Cuddalore District in Tamil Nadu at a cost of Rs. 598.63 lakh. This would also include the reconstruction of 14 cross drainage falling in this stretch full story>>

Friday, November 03, 2006

Water stagnates in Cuddalore museum

Rain water stagnates inside the Government Museum campus in Cuddalore. The level of the floor is below the road level. The museum is supposedly in a rented land.
Photo courtesy of Vinoth Thiyagaragan.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Cuddalore in the news

New life from the depths of despair-This is Lancashire
by Maxine Wolstenholme

.....In Pattaraiyadi, near Chidambaram in the district of Cuddalore, houses built 20 years ago by the Indian Government had collapsed. There, smiling women announced: "You have made us very happy. Now we have strong houses. In our life it would be impossible to build a house like this one. Please say thank you to the people who made it possible."
Mr Surimuthi, village leader in Pattarayaidi, Cuddalore, told us: "On full moon days the water comes up to our house and we sometimes wonder if it will be a tsunami again, but we have had training and now we have confidence. Thirty-five people have been trained in this village so that we have confidence to rescue people if it happens again." full story>>

Architecture For Humanity, Tsunami Reconstruction and LEAD - The Green Appeal (A blog)

Six held for hurling petrol bombs at chemical unit
-New Indian Express

Six held for attack on factory-Gulf Times

Steps to tackle floods in Cuddalore district-The Hindu

CII, Deutsche Bank reach out to tsunami-hit farmers-The Hindu

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Hospital Road broadening work

After the completion of pedestrian footpath along both the sides in Hospital Road, the broadening work has just begun. Speed breakers are also built on both the sides of the road.More importantly, the broadening work is underway in the place where Hospital Road leads into the Nellikuppam High Road.

New pavement coming-up along Barathi Road

Construction of sidewalks is in progress in Barathi Road.