The SIPCOT Area Community Environmental Monitors web site is a joint project of The Other Media, Global Community Monitor and monitors from Eachangadu, Sangolikuppam and Semmankuppam.
What is Community Environmental Monitoring?
Besides training villagers in the science of pollution, the Community Environmental Monitoring initiative seeks to involve villagers in the fight against pollution by engaging them in environmental and health monitoring, and sustainable livelihood activities.
CEM is as much about the community as it is about the environment. CEM sees political empowerment and the right to make informed decisions about development as key to success in the struggle against environmental casteism and discrimination. While local self-help is an emphasis, CEM’s philosophy also hinges on holding corporations and polluters accountable.
Less than a year after the launch of the initiative, village monitors in SIPCOT are now organised as the SIPCOT Area Community Environmental Monitors (SACEM). In September 2004, SACEM published its first scientific report on ambient air quality in SIPCOT. The report was a first of its kind, not only because it was a scientific report by villagers, but also because it quantified toxic gases in ambient air – an exercise that no agency in India has undertaken till date. The report forms the basis for a Supreme Court order calling for the setting up of national standards for toxic gases in ambient air.
Involvement with other pollution-impacted communities in Kodaikanal and Mettur Dam in Tamilnadu, and Eloor and Edayar Industrial areas near Kochi, Kerala, is growing.
Among other things, CEM aims to inform and educate town and city residents about the plight of pollution-impacted communities, and mobilise their support for the struggle of such communities against pollution and polluters.