Thursday, April 05, 2007

1000 Bhopal Photo Exhibit at Alliance Francaise of Madras

The Bhopal Gas Disaster of 1984 was not an accident. It was the result of systematic neglect by the Government and industry. Twenty-three years after this disaster, no lessons have been learnt. The environment, workers and communities living next to the industries face the same threats that caused the Bhopal Gas Disaster. The neglect that plagued Union Carbide's factory in Bhopal, plagues several toxic hotspots in Mettur, Cuddalore, Kodungaiyur, Ennore, Manali, Tuticorin, Alathur, Kodaikanal and Tiruppur -- all in Tamil Nadu. . .all slow-motion Bhopals. Community Environmental Monitoring invites you to the inauguration of the "1000 Bhopal" photo exhibition that will give you a glimpse of the lurking dangers in thousands of communities around the country and in Tamil Nadu who live in Bhopal everyday.

Details of inauguration:
Date: 9 April 2007
Time: 6:00 pm
Venue: Alliance Francaise of Madras,
No. 40, College Road, Numbgambakkam, Chennai
For more details contact:
Shweta Narayan – 94440 24315
Dharmesh Shah – 94444 16546
The exhibition will be on from 9 April to 21 April 2007 from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm at Alliance Francaise of Madras.
The Alliance Francaise of Madras is organising a three day event on environment from 9th April to 11th April. A cycle of exhibition, films and discussions on the environment and its problems.

The schedule of the event is as follows:

Exhibition, 9th to 21st April:
1000 Bhopal - The photo 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 Kasargod, Kerala and chemical pollution from the Golden Corridor in Gujarat, the main focus is on Tamilnadu where places like Cuddalore, Mettur, Manali and Chengelpattu are severely impacted by industrial pollution.

Documentary Films:

9/4/07: Hunting for Warren Anderson, By Dateline : 22 years after the world's worst industrial disaster, survivors o the Bhopal gas tragedy are still trying to bring the person and the corporation responsible for this disaster to justice.

Neer Nilam Katru (Water land and air), by: S. Divyanathan: This 15 minutes film takes you to the depths of the petroleum refinery hub of Manali located in the north of Chennai.

10/4/07: Darwin's Nightmare, H. Sauper : Fishermen, politicians, Russian pilots, prostitutes and manufacturers all caught up in an incredible drama. The shores of the world's largest tropical lake are now the scene of globalization's worst nightmare.

11/4/07: The right to survive, Rita Banerji & Shilpi Sharma : each year, the eastern coast of India witnesses a truly spectacular occurrence of nature, the arrival en masse of hundreds of thousands of Olive Ridley turtles in the coastal region of the State of Orissa. This film offerssome insights into the dilemmas facing the various stakeholders and attempts to provide a solution for tomorrow.


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Six Sinhalese fishermen detained in Cuddalore - The Hindu

Six Sinhalese fishermen who were found drifting in a failed mechanised boat in the Bay of Bengal, about four km off the Cuddalore coast, were rescued by the Thevanampattinam fishermen on Sunday night full story>>

Seismological centre to be setup at Cuddalore

Here is an extract from news article Government to set up IT parks in five cities - The Hindu:

...Revenue Minister I. Periasamy said the Government had been taking efforts to set up seismological centres at Kanyakumari, Rameswaram, Cuddalore and Chennai. An expert committee had been asked to give its recommendations on forecasting natural disasters as the State fell under seismic zone 2 and 3.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

A successful entrepreneur from Cuddalore

An article in
C K Ranganathan, chairman and managing director of CavinKare, has shown the world it is possible to beat the multinationals even in the most difficult market of fast moving consumer goods.
Ranganathan' s journey, which started from a small town of Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu, has been an amazing one. A business which he started with only with Rs 15,000 is now worth Rs 500 crore (Rs 5 billion).
He learnt the first entrepreneurial lessons from his father, Chinni Krishnan, who started a small-scale pharmaceutical packaging unit, before moving on to manufacture pharmaceutical products and cosmetics.
In an interview with, the CavinKare chief speaks about his inspiring journey.
His father, his inspiration
My father, Chinni Krishnan, an agriculturist, was also into pharmaceutical business. As I was poor in academics, he wanted me to either do agriculture or start a business.

My siblings were good in studies -- two of them became doctors and another a lawyer. I was the odd one out. While my siblings studied in English medium schools, I was put in a Tamil medium school. I used to suffer from an inferiority complex because of my poor academic record.
Studies did not interest me, but rearing pets did. When I was in the fifth standard, I had a lot of pets -- more than 500 pigeons, a lot of fish and a large variety of birds. I used to earn my pocket money out of pet business at that time. Perhaps, the entrepreneurial spirit in me showed its first streak.
The origin of the concept of sachets
My father died as I entered college. He had come out with the sachet concept a couple of years prior to his demise. He felt liquid can be packed in sachets as well. When talcum powder was sold only in tin containers, he was the one who sold it in 100 gm, 50 gm and 20 gm packs.
When Epsom salt came in 100 gm packets, my father brought out salt sachets of as low as 5 gm.
'Whatever I make, I want the coolies and the rickshawpullers to use. I want to make my products affordable to them,' he used to say.
Selling things in sachets was his motto as he said, 'this is going to be the product of the future.' But my father could not market the concept well. He moved from one innovation to another but never thought of marketing strategies. He was a great innovator, but a poor marketer.
Joining the family business
After my father's death, my brothers took charge of the family business. In 1982, when I joined them after my studies, they had launched Velvette Shampoo. Within eight to nine months, I left the business because my ideas clashed with theirs.
As I was in the manufacturing unit, I did not know anything about marketing or finance. But, my inferiority complex notwithstanding, I was somehow confident of doing business better.
Starting his own business with Rs 15,000
I had left my brothers saying that I did not want any stake in the property or business. That was a defining moment for me. I had saved Rs 15,000 from my salary and that was all I had. Yet I was confident of achieving success. I did not feel anything about riding a bicycle after having got used to cars.
For a week, I could not make up my mind as to what business to do. I knew only two things; making shampoo and rearing pets. I didn't want to venture into the shampoo business as it would initate a fight with my brothers. However, I decided to do the same later as I could only make shampoo.
I rented a house-cum-office for Rs 250 a month against an advance of Rs 1,000. I took another place for the factory for a rent of Rs 300 a month and against an advance of Rs 1,200. I bought a shampoo-packing machine for Rs 3,000.
How Chik Shampoo was born
I named it Chik Shampoo after my father. The product did not succeed immediately; we learnt many things during the process. In the first month, we could sell 20,000 sachets and from the second year, we started making profits.
I moved to Chennai in 1989 but our manufacturing unit continued to be in Cuddalore. It took me three years to get the first loan because banks asked for collateral. I did not have any. But one particular bank gave me a loan of Rs 25,000 which we rotated and later upgraded to Rs 400,000, Rs 15 lakh (Rs 1.5 million), etc.
You know what the bank manager wrote in our loan application? 'This person does not have any collateral to offer but there is something interesting about this SSI unit. Unlike others, this company pays income tax!'
I must say my business never looked back because I was very particular about paying income tax.
Strategies that made Chik Shampoo No. 1 in South India
When Chik entered the market, Velvette Shampoo was being marketed aggressively by Godrej. But a scheme of ours became extremely successful -- we exchanged five sachets of any shampoo for a Chik Shampoo sachet, free.

Later, we altered the scheme -- we started giving one free Chik Shampoo sachet in lieu of five Chik Shampoo sachets only. Soon, consumers started asking for Chik sachets only. The sales went up from Rs 35,000 to Rs 12 lakh (Rs 1.2 million) a month.
When we introduced jasmine and rose fragrances, our sales went up to Rs 30 lakh (Rs 3 million) per month and with actor Amala as our model, our sales rose to Rs 1 crore (Rs 10 million) a month! Each idea of ours was rewarded by our customers. There has been no looking back since then.
Our market share increased and in 1992, we became the numero uno in South India. It took nine years for me to overtake my brothers' business.
How Chik Shampoo conquered the rural market
Multinational companies sold products in big bottles and not in sachets and they sold only from fancy stores. They did not look at the small kirana stores, nor did they look at the rural market.
We went to the rural areas of South India where people hardly used shampoo. We showed them how to use it. We did live demonstration on a young boy. We asked those assembled to feel and smell his hair.
Next we planned Chik Shampoo-sponsored shows of Rajniknath's films. We showed our advertisements in between, followed by live demonstrations. We also distributed free sachets among the audience after these shows. This worked wonders in rural Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. After every show, our shampoo sales went up three to four times.
Today, the Indian rural market is growing at a pace double than that of the urban market.
Launching Meera Herbal powder
We continued with Chik Shampoo for seven years before venturing into anything else.
Meera Herbal powder was actually not our idea. Shaw Wallace already had a herbal product but it was marketed very poorly. We felt there was a demand for herbal products and we made a good product. I felt we should be the leader if ours was a good product. And guess what? In the third month itself, we topped the market. In six months, we had 95 per cent market share, while Shaw Wallace had only 4-5 per cent.
How Beauty Cosmetics became CavinKare
As we planned to expand to new products, we thought the name Beauty Cosmetics would be restrictive. In 1998, we ran a contest among our employees for a name and one of them suggested CavinKare; with C and K spelt in capitals. CK, my father's initials. Cavin in Tamil means beauty and grace.
Perfumes for the poor
We wanted to cater to those who cannot afford (high priced) perfumes. Good perfumes came at a huge price -- they were beyond the means of ordinary people. We decided to come out with a Rs 10 pack Spinz. We were successful in that too.
Shampoo market share
In the last two to three years, our market share has come down though we are growing. It is mainly because of the anti-dandruff shampoos in the market. We do not have an anti-dandruff shampoo yet. From 0 per cent, the anti-dandruff shampoos have taken over 25 per cent of the market.

Only 75 per cent of the market, therefore, constitutes ordinary shampoos. We hold 20 per cent of the market share.

But we are the largest brand in rural Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, etc. and we are the number one in many other states as well.
On the decision to launch a fairness cream
We decided to launch Fairever in 1997 as we saw a huge demand fairness cream. We are the second largest player in the market in this.
Research states that when a product is good, consumers do not shift to a new brand. Our team told me not to venture into the fairness cream market as the consumers were quite satisfied with the existing products. But we went to launch our product containing saffron -- which is traditionally used to get a fair complexion. In six months, our sales galloped.
This was followed by Indica hair dye.

Two and a half years ago, we launched Ruchi pickles in sachets and we became number one there too. We sell close to 5,000 tonne of pickles per annum. We hope to double this in two to three years. Food is a huge market: we have understood that.

Our target is to be a Rs 1,500 crore (Rs 15 billion) company in another three years.
Reasons behind his success
Teamwork is the main reason for our success. We have good professionals who work really hard. The second reason of our success is innovation. We have executed innovative ideas as well.
CavinKare Ability Award
This month, we presented the 5th CavinKare Ability Foundation awards for physically disabled achievers.
I stayed as a tenant at Jayashree Ravindran's place (the woman who started the Ability Foundation). Once, she said she wanted to start a magazine for the disabled. Though she did not ask for sponsorship, I gave her a cheque of Rs 25,000. I also became one of the Foundation's founder members.
Once we came to know about the disabled who have climbed the ladder of success, we -- Ability Foundation and CavinKare -- decided to institute an award for them.
I feel each of us has to give something back to the society. I have great admiration for those who fight against all odds and attain success. When I started my career, I only faced shortage of funds but these people tide over graver difficulties. We must applaud their fighting spirit.
C K Ranganathan, chairman and managing director of CavinKare.
Courtesy :

Monday, April 02, 2007

Report on SIPCOT pollution unduly delayed: consumer body - The Hindu

Report on SIPCOT pollution unduly delayed: consumer body

The Hindu, 31 March 2007

Special Correspondent

Ambient air 'contains eight chemicals exceeding safety limits'

PUBLIC WORRY: Unchecked pollution in the SIPCOT Industrial Estate area in Cuddalore is causing concern to the residents.

CUDDALORE: The National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), which has been assigned the task of studying the pollution problem in the SIPCOT Industrial Estate area here, has inordinately delayed submitting the final report.
The State Government had sanctioned Rs. 20.15 lakh for the study that commenced in May 2005, particularly on volatile organic compounds, with the specific mandate that it must be completed by July 2006.

The institute has so far submitted only the interim report, according to M. Nizamudeen, general secretary of the Cuddalore District Consumer Organisation.
Mr. Nizamudeen told The Hindu that it showed the unwillingness of the authorities to address the crucial issue of pollution causing health hazards to the people living in the vicinity.
The SIPCOT Area Community Environmental Monitoring (SACEM), formed by residents to carry on the fight against pollution, is as concerned now as it was in 2004 when it exposed the hazards of untreated effluents.

But the authorities had not done anything tangible to control pollution. The samples collected last month at two points near the SIPCOT canteen and at the entrance of Eachangadu, revealed that the ambient air contained 12 chemicals of which eight exceeded the limits prescribed by the Environmental Protection Agency of the U.S.

Three chemicals, namely chloroform, methylene chloride and trichlorethene, known to cause cancer, were much above the safety levels. Other chemicals had the potential to affect the nervous system and kidneys, and, cause heart and eye ailments.
Mr. Nizamudeen noted that the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee on hazardous wastes had directed the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board to bring down the pollution-level before December 2005. But it was not complied with.

TNPCB sources said NEERI had submitted the draft report and the final report would be ready soon.

Gummidipoondi Residents Rally to Stop State Supported Illegal Toxic Waste Landfill

Gummidipoondi, 30 March 2007 – More than 400 residents, primarily women, from Gummidipoondi marched from the SIPCOT Gummidipoondi office to the SIPCOT junction to protest the ongoing illegal work at the proposed landfill and incinerator of Tamil Nadu Waste Management Ltd (TNWML)'s. Despite repeated reminders to the company and BDO, the company has recommenced construction without seeking approval of the Panchayat or the Panchayat Union Council as required under the Tamilnadu Panchayat Building Rules and the Tamilnadu Panchayats Act. More than 400 armed police personnel surrounded the gathering of villagers preventing them from rallying till the landfill site. The police refused to allow the village members to go anywhere in the vicinity of the landfill site. The company got high level security despite being alerted by the S.R. Kandigai Panchayat President about the illegality of the project.

On 26 January, 2007, the S.R. Kandigai Grama Panchayat issued a resolution against the toxic dumpsite on grounds that it will pollute the groundwater, and affect agriculture and human health. Gummidipoondi is one of the few revenue blocks in Tamilnadu that is rich in groundwater and with a high groundwater table. More than 230 out of 384 revenue blocks in Tamilnadu are either over-exploited or critical, according to the Central Groundwater Board. In June 2005, the Gummidipoondi Panchayat Union issued a resolution against the toxic facility.
Speaking on behalf of the village, Mr. T. Rosepillai, Panchayat president of S. R. Kandigai said "By providing police protection to the illegal operations of the company the state has made its intention clear of sacrificing the law-abiding residents of Gummidipoondi in the name of development. All we are asking is that the Panchayat rules must be followed and the company must apply for our permission, without which no construction can be allowed."

A police complaint filed by residents on 14 March, 2007, is pending with the SIPCOT Gummidipoondi police station. The police has said it will extend support only to the company, and will arrest any body that interferes with the work. Villagers said they are stopping work because Government agencies have failed to discharge their duty of protecting the law and instead had taken the side of the company. The villagers had taken a similar action in January 2006 when the company had engaged in illegal construction of the landfill. Subsequently, village representatives had moved the Madras High Court and obtained an interim stay on the work. After a year long legal battle, the Madras High Court vacated the stay in December 2006 stating that according to the Supreme Court's order no High Courts in India have jurisdiction over issues relating to hazardous wastes and that the petitioners should take the matter to the Supreme Court of India. The villagers are planning to approach the Supreme Court.

The project violates Supreme Court-sanctified siting guidelines, and will poison subsurface water, affect agriculture and threaten public health in the residential areas that lie about 500 metres from the project site. The porous sand-stone layer at the surface means any contamination from the landfill will quickly flow to the groundwater. Siting guidelines prohibit the setting up of such facilities near water bodies. However, the project site is less than 100 metres from the Kuluva Cheruvu pond. Villagers also point out that it is ironical that the Tamil Nadu Government is contemplating setting up a landfill in an area that supplied several hundred tankerloads of freshwater to Metrowater in 2004. "On the one hand, the Government is contemplating mega-schemes such as the Rs. 500 crore desalination plant. On the other, it is spending money to poison good water," residents said.

Representatives of Community Environmental Monitoring (CEM), People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and Chennai based youth group Youth for Social Change (YSC) also joined the residents in solidarity.

Organised by:Environmental Protection Group, Gummidipoondi. S.R. Kandigai Panchayat.T. Rosepillai, Panchayat President, S.R. Kandigai Post, Gummidipoondi Taluk. Tel: 9865415889